Shirkey gets himself in hot water

Usually, when a legislative leader from either party makes a mistake, he or she has plenty of those in the ranks who instinctively come to the leader’s defense.

They dutifully deliver such bromides as, “Everyone makes mistakes,” or, “There’s been a lot of pressure lately, and, sometimes, you say stuff that you know you should not have said.”

Then, everyone crosses their collective fingers, hoping that the story goes away.

The current Republican state Senate majority leader has been saying a lot of stuff recently that has him in hot water, and what he got from his loyal backers in the caucus was crickets.

Instead, he had colleagues who privately rolled their eyes, as if to say, “There he goes again,” while others started to wonder if state Sen. Mike Shirkey was becoming a political liability for senators.

It is one thing to be loyal, but quite another if that loyalty could cost you your job at the next election.

Just in case you have missed all this, try these on for size.

1.) He said the Republicans “spanked the governor on the budget and spanked her on her appointments.”

2.) In the same chat with a handful of conservative Republicans who were about to censure him for remarks they didn’t like, Mr. Shirkey opined that he had thought about staging a fistfight with the governor on the Capitol lawn.

3.) He also used the word “hoax” in this meeting. The media reported that to mean he thought the uproar on Jan. 6 at the nation’s Capitol was that. He tried to put the hoax genie back in the bottle, saying that what he meant referred to some mysterious unnamed person who pre-planned the riot months before it occurred. And the leader asserted that he thought the FBI would uncover that person soon.

We don’t have enough space here to regurgitate all of the comments Mr. Shirkey has made in the past, but, suffice it to say, the pattern here is troubling to some, including the business community. And, of course, the Democrats have been all over him, demanding he resign his leadership post or just get out of dodge for good.

Shirkey has said he will not resign. He also issued an apology, but the Democratic lieutenant governor, Garlin Gilchrist, said the apology was “not heartfelt” and was issued just for political purposes.

Be clear here: No Republican has demanded he step down. But soundings from the business community have an ominous overtone if you are a GOP senator running for reelection next year.

Some businesses have privately communicated they will not make any financial contributions to Mr. Shirkey in light of his conduct. Others have publicly said they are trying to decide what to do in that regard.

If you are that GOP senator, you have to wonder, if that trend continues, what impact will that have on my reelection effort? It’s clearly not a plus.

Which is why nobody in the GOP caucus has made a peep for fear of being dragged into the same mess. They can anticipate that, when they do run again, there could be commercials along these lines: “Republican Sen. (fill in the blank) voted for Mike Shirkey to be their leader, and Shirkey has uttered violent things about the governor. Is that the kind of senator you want representing you?”

Making sure he didn’t get lumped into all this, the newly elected Republican speaker of the state House, Jason Wentworth, issued his own statement, making it clear he did not embrace any of the comments that his Senate counterpart had made and asserting that everyone needs to work together.

Mr. Shirkey acknowledged in his opening prayer the other day he wanted divine intervention: “We need your grace and your holy spirit now more than ever, and that’s everybody, including especially me, (because), sometimes, we get off the tracks.”

Speaking of tracks, everyone in town wants to know, can the senator stop himself from uttering more inflammatory remarks, or is this a slow-motion trainwreck in the works?


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