Conn’s Larson, Mass’ Clarke Driving Forces Behind Sit-In

Two US Reps. from New England were the driving forces behind this week’s successful sit-in on the floor of the House of Representatives. And The Shad quickly noticed a personal connection to both. Connecticut’s John Larson and Massachusetts’ Kathrine Clark led the mini-mutiny. I’m proud.

Larson is a former senate president in the Connecticut General Assembly and was for my last years living in the state, my congressman. He has moved up the leadership ladder in the House and was key in actually executing the sit-in, acting as a sort of emcee. My personal interaction with him was limited to when I served as the communications director for the Senate Democrats after he had left the state Senate.

Clark is credited with coming up with the idea of the House rule-breaking action. She is my congresswomen currently and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting her a number of times in Massachusetts Democratic political circles. Clark is impressive and along with US Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) is see as a rising star in the party.

Of course, none of it could have happened without civil rights icon US Rep. John Lewis whose mere presence made the sit-in an “event.” He is no stranger to protests. Sitting on the House floor is nothing compared what he endured during the civil rights movement. Paul Ryan shutting down CSPAN cameras as Lewis was speaking doesn’t quite compare with getting his head split open by a cop during protests in the south in the 60s.

For those who think the 76-year old Lewis can’t get his message out in the digital age, guess again. “Social media told our story,” Lewis said as the sit-in was winding down. Protesting Democrats got images and messages out via every social media platform possible.

The immediate loser in the whole sit-in affair? Speaker of the House Ryan. Likely still hurting from the bearing he has taken over his endorsement of Donald Trump, Ryan made the ill-advised decision to gavel back into session and try to take routine votes. It didn’t work out that well.

Long-term losers are the Republican senators and House members who are facing reelection in the fall. They can now go home for the July 4th weekend and explain how they voted (or would have voted) against measures that 90 percent of the American public. Good luck with that.

In the meantime, I remain proud of Larson, Clark and of course, US Sen. Chris Murphy who was elected to the state Senate at almost the exact time I joined the staff. It’s nice to know I knew them when.