Jeffrey Plots Political Return Against Inglis

Posted January 26, 2009 at 3:17pm

She’s back.

Longtime political science scholar, one-time Georgia Congressional candidate and short-time House Historian Christina Jeffrey returned to Capitol Hill on Friday morning to announce that she’s planning a political comeback.

Jeffrey has decided to challenge South Carolina Rep. Bob Inglis (R) for his 4th district seat in the 2010 GOP primary.

“It’s a critical time and it’s time for new blood,” Jeffrey said on steps of the House. She was joined Friday by an audience made up almost entirely of students in town to take part in the March for Life. “Our Congressman from the 4th district is a lovely man, but he hasn’t done that much. He’s a little out of touch with the district, and maybe Congress as a whole is out of touch with the country and it’s time for a change.”

Inglis was elected to the 4th district seat in 2004, after serving three terms as the district’s Congressman in the 1990s and then leaving Congress to honor a term-limits pledge. His voting record has moved more toward the center in his second stint on Capitol Hill, and in the previous cycle he was seen as a possible target of conservatives. But Inglis ended up avoiding a credible primary challenger, and he went on to win re-election by more than 20 points.

Inglis’ office declined to comment on Jeffrey’s announcement.

Jeffrey, a staunch conservative, currently lectures at Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C., and for the past seven years she’s served as secretary of the local Republican Party. But she is also no stranger to the campaign trail.

Jeffrey lost a GOP primary last year for a South Carolina state House seat. In 1999, when she worked as a professor at Kennesaw State University in Georgia, she lost a special election to replace former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.). She raised more than $200,000 for that bid but garnered just 25 percent of the vote while running as a more conservative, anti-abortion-rights alternative to Republican Johnny Isakson, the eventual winner.

Four years earlier, Jeffrey earned a spot in the annals of Congressional history when she served a very short term as House Historian.

After being elected Speaker following the historic 1994 election cycle, Gingrich decided to replace the man who had served as House Historian for a dozen years with Jeffrey, a fellow Georgian.

Already under criticism from Democrats who alleged that she was too partisan and too closely tied to Gingrich to handle the post credibly, Jeffrey was fired after just six days on the job following revelations that she had made controversial remarks about a high school course on the Holocaust.

Jeffrey criticized Gingrich’s office for how it handled her case, and Gingrich later stated that her firing had been inappropriate. But that didn’t keep Jeffrey from filing a $16.7 million defamation suit against Gingrich. That case was later dismissed.

During her 1999 campaign, Jeffrey spoke glowingly of Gingrich and praised his legacy as she sought to win his Congressional seat.

On Friday, Jeffrey said she keeps in “casual contact” with Gingrich but said she had not discussed her bid to knock off Inglis with the former Speaker.

She did say that her major objection to Inglis is that the Congressman voted for the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act last year.

“I know it was a difficult time, but he did vote for the bailout and his constituents are not happy about that. I’m not happy about that,” Jeffrey said.

Asked why she was taking the unusual step of making her announcement in Washington, D.C., rather than in the district that she is seeking to represent in Congress, Jeffrey said she was in town for the March for Life and it seemed like a good opportunity. She said she wanted to get in early, especially since she expects more candidates to come out and challenge Inglis.

She added: “Just like you should dress for the job you want, you should show up at the office.”

She said her love of the institution and lifelong dream of becoming a Congresswoman were part of the reason she’s embarking on the campaign trail again. But there’s also another reason.

“Who wants to end their career as a footnote?” Jeffrey said.