Seat of power vs. scent of pizza

Congressmen and senators don't win elections by expressing their love for Washington.

Instead, they tell their constituents how much they detest the squalor of politics in the nation's capital. And they promise to get back home as much as possible, where they can mingle with real people.

The truth is more complicated, though. As it turns out, Washington is quite addicting.

How else can you explain why these same politicos often stay in Washington after their political careers end?

Republicans Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich have railed against Washington for years, but after they left Congress, they stayed inside the Beltway, forgetting about their reputed home states – Pennsylvania for Santorum and Georgia for Gingrich.

Republican Rep. Don Manzullo, who has a small farm in Egan in Ogle County, about 10 miles west of Rockford, lost his bid for re-election last year after two decades in Congress. Think he's coming back home where the real people dwell?

Only part of the time.

Manzullo, who represented Lee, Ogle and part of Whiteside County, got a new job – on Washington's K Street, where many congressmen end up after they leave politics. He will lead the Korea Economic Institute, a South Korean economic think tank.

This probably fits well with Manzullo's experience: He was seen as the leading authority on manufacturing in Congress, and South Korea is a manufacturing powerhouse and an economic marvel.

Last month, Manzullo told the Rockford Register Star that he would split his time between Egan and Washington, where he bought a townhouse in 1996.

On the other hand, Rep. Bobby Schilling, R-Colona, who represented the other part of Whiteside County, didn't develop such a strong attachment to the Beltway. Schilling, who lost his seat after 2 years in the House, said he is looking forward to going back home to run his pizza joint in Moline.

In short, Schilling prefers the scent of pizza over the seat of power.

David Giuliani is a reporter for Sauk Valley Media. He can be reached at dgiuliani@saukvalley or at 800-798-4085, ext. 525.