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Incumbents' Advantage

April 03, 1988

In his March 27 letter, Rep. Robert E. Badham (R-Newport Beach) states that there are no "GOP power brokers" in Orange County and that anyone is free to run against an incumbent.

As one of the 14 candidates for the Republican nomination for Congress in the 40th District, I agree that anyone can run. I also see no real evidence that there are "power brokers" who can decide elections.

The problem is that once elected, the power of the incumbency is so great that the position becomes a lifetime sinecure. It is only because Badham is stepping down that we see such a flurry of activity this year.

For the past 40 years, more than 80% of incumbents in the House have been reelected. In 1986, 98% were reelected. The result is that we have an "imperial Congress" largely immune from voter pressure and seemingly incapable of solving our biggest problems.

This is the part of our system that needs change. We need to enact a constitutional limitation on the number of terms any elected official can serve. Six years should be the limit.

LARRY F. STERNBERG

Santa Ana

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