Runyan rips DC dysfunction, both parties

In this Jan. 3, 2013 file photo, Rep. Jon Runyan, R-N.J., stands with his family for a ceremonial photo with Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, left, in the Rayburn Room of the Capitol after the new 113th Congress convened in Washington. The two term Republican has decided to retire from Congress, rather than seek a third term, it was announced on Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

WASHINGTON – In football, Congressman Jon Runyan (R., N.J.) wrote last week, it was at least clear who his opponents were.

In Washington, the ex-Eagles lineman writes that he couldn’t even count on that much (though he says he carried around a list of fellow Republicans who he felt had hypocritically scorned New Jersey’s plea for aid after superstorm Sandy).

“Individual personalities and self-serving strategies had become the focus of our attention — a classic example, you could say, of guys playing to get to the Pro Bowl rather than the Super Bowl,” Runyan wrote in a Politico Magazine essay published Friday, his first extensive public comments on his decision not to seek re-election after two terms.

Runyan touched on many of the same themes Republican allies told us about when he announced his decision in early November (the Politico piece even links to our story from then). But this is the first time Runyan has explained at-length his decision to leave Congress, aside from a brief statement announcing his choice.

Runyan, as he did then, writes about the sadness of missing out on family moments: he describes saying goodbye to his youngest daughter as he planned to leave a family reunion early to return to Washington and missing out on the chance to be with his son on the day he got a scholarship to play football at Runyan’s alma mater, Michigan.

But much of the piece is devoted to Runyan’s dissatisfaction with the constant brinksmanship in Congress (“all of it leaving me quite frustrated and my constituents scratching their heads”) and the struggle to pass a Sandy aid package as his devastated district tried to rebuild.

Senate Democrats, Runyan said, passed a bill “laden with sweeteners” while 179 House Republicans refused to support even what he said was a “pork-free” version.

“Many of these members had previously requested aid for their own districts following other natural disasters. I actually carried the list of those members in my lapel pocket for weeks following that vote,” Runyan wrote.

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