Last week, Congressman Charlie Norwood, six-term Representative from Georgia’s 10th Congressional District, left Washington – perhaps permanently – and returned home to Augusta for hospice care, and to be with his family in what may be the last days of his life. According to a statement released by his office, Norwood “declined further treatment at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, DC… after battling non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) since mid-November.”
A member of the 1994 “Republican Revolution,” the sixty-five year old Norwood, a dentist by trade (as well as an Army veteran who earned two Bronze Stars in Vietnam), worked tirelessly on several issues of importance both to his state and to the nation. The author of the “Patient’s Bill of Rights,” Norwood spearheaded the effort to secure full medical coverage for military retirees, as well as other comprehensive healthcare reform measures. He also did yeoman’s work on behalf of a broad spectrum of Americans, from individuals, such as special needs students, for whom he authored the Discipline Reform Amendment to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, to industries like broadcast television, for which he authored Community Broadcasting Protection Act.
Despite redistricting in 1996 and 2002, Norwood never received less than 52.3% of the vote (in 1996), and received over 60% of the vote five times, including twice over seventy percent. His reelection in 2006, unfortunately, appears to be his last.
Should Norwood be unable to complete his term in Congress, Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue will be required, within ten days of his passing, to submit to the Secretary of State a proposed date, at least thirty days away, for a special election.
The Democratic response to Dr. Norwood’s condition has varied widely. The most extreme reaction, though, may be coming from the district’s Republican-heavy Oconee County, where a former chairman of the county Democratic Party made some particularly vile comments regarding the ailing Congressman on his weblog (which, though a personal site, is hosted under the name of the county party.)
Showing his personal stripes as a hateful, callous “progressive,” Matthews, under the title "Charlie Norwood coming home; won't resign seat,” such remarks as, “Oddly he may actually make a case for Dr. Kevorkian style euthanasia in his waning days,” and “...if he is refusing treatment, the least he could while still alive is to resign the seat with dignity intact”. That last had the obligatory “We certainly wish the best for Congressman Norwood” tacked on to the front of it, but, given the context, it does not seem possible that any eight-word phrase could ring more hollow.
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