February 25, 2016
Rep. Matt Salmon announced this morning that he is retiring from Congress, in order to spend more time with his family.
Usually when a politician rolls out the old spend-time-with-family bromide, you know the guy’s laundry is starting to stink.
With Salmon, however, I’m pretty the wash is still smelling sweet.
Not many people willingly walk away from a seat that offers power, privilege and a paycheck for life.
Salmon is doing just that. Again.
“Even with the amazing experience of being your congressman, I often reflect on the worst aspect of my job,” he wrote, in announcing that he will not seek re-election. “That spot belongs solely and exclusively to the time spent away from my family.
“I strongly believe in the simple truth that in any man’s life, his top priority should be his family.”
And so Salmon is signing off as a United States congressman.
He leaves behind a record that his colleagues would do well to emulate.
No. 1. He kept his promise. When he was first elected to Congress in 1994, he was one of a number of candidates who made a “Contract with America”, promising to leave after serving three terms.
In 2000, he was of just a few to actually keep that promise, believing – contrary to many of his colleagues – that Washington would get along just fine without him.
He would return a dozen years later and promptly propose term limits for Congress. I think you can guess how that went over.
And No. 2. He kept his primary focus where it belonged. On his family. He proved that this morning, in announcing that the job of husband, father and grandfather is far more important than the job of congressman.
I may not always agree with Matt Salmon’s politics. I wish he'd pushed harder on finding a compromise on immigration. I wish he'd tackled the dark money that is corrupting this state and this nation.
But I salute Salmon's values. He kept his promise and he put his family first.
Is there a better legacy?