Alan Diaz/AP Photo
Allen West, elected congressman of Florida's 22nd Congressional District.
Referring to the opposite party's leadership as "garbage" is usually not the best way to make a good first impression on Capitol Hill, even with members of your own party.
But that's exactly what Joyce Kaufman did. She's the newly named chief of staff to Allen West, the Republican who beat the Democratic incumbent in Florida's 22nd Congressional District,
The Washington Post reported that Kaufman, a South Florida radio personality and something of a rhetorical bomb thrower, made the less than decorous remark on her radio show about Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
In discussing the move on her show Tuesday afternoon, the husky-voiced radio commentator said she is excited to come to Washington and get a "bird's-eye view" of Congress. Kaufman dismissed the outgoing Democratic leadership as "garbage."
"Over these months I have been blessed to form very wonderful relationships with the West family," Kaufman said, adding that she had been a supporter of his campaign. "I looked at this family and [told] myself, how do you not fight and put them up on the pedestal when we've got this garbage up on the pedestal now, people like Nancy Pelosi?"
Looks like presumptive speaker to be John Boehner could really have his job cut out for him, to say the least, in terms of keeping his Republicans on message.
West, one of the two new African-American Republicans elected last week, had Tea Party movement support in his rematch against Klein which West won going away with 54 percent of the vote to Klein's 46 percent.
But the district is a swing one, with a significant percentage of independents. Just two years ago, Klein beat West 55 percent to 45 percent.
An excerpt from the Sun-sentinel on the importance of independents in the district:
And those independent voters were the biggest factor in the outcomes, said Kevin Hill, a political scientist at Florida International University.
They went Republican this year after trending Democratic in recent elections. In the coastal Broward and Palm Beach county district West won from Klein, Obama won 52 percent of the vote in 2008. Klein won just 46 percent of the vote this year.
Hill said that's not unique to Florida's 22nd Congressional District. "That happened everywhere," he said. "The independents swung against them [Democrats]."
Independents are famous for not liking the partisan ugliness that characterizes so much of contemporary U.S. politics. Repeated surveys have underscored their antipathy for nasty interparty fights.
Comments like Kaufman's could threaten West's appeal to these independents.
Meanwhile, the liberal web site, Thinkprogress.org, reports that Kaufman's plans to report for radio station WTFL while serving as West's chief of staff could present additional problems.
Carol Dixon, counsel for the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, told ThinkProgress that she had not heard of Kaufman’s situation in particular, but said that generally this setup could be “potentially problematic.” “There may be potential confidentiality issues — some of the issues she’s reporting on may be gained by virtue of her House status. At a staff level it seems problematic,” Dixon said. The committee’s rules also say Kaufman must earn a fair market salary from WFTL, and refrain from using any office equipment for her radio duties.