David A. Bonior
Believe it or not, House Minority Whip David Bonior (D-Mich.) had an active congressional career before Newt Gingrich became House speaker.
But it's easy to forget. Bonior has been relentless in -- some Republicans would say "obsessed with" -- pursuing Gingrich ever since Republicans won control of the Congress in November 1994. Bonior filed an avalanche of ethics charges against Gingrich in the last Congress, and a few stuck, including those that eventually led to Gingrich's reprimand by the full House last December.
The congressman from Michigan has an intense style, forceful but not bombastic. He toned down the visuals late last year by wearing a sweater to several press conferences, but his continued verbal eviscerations of Gingrich belied the holiday look.
Bonior's minority whip post is the same job Gingrich used as a platform in the late 1980s to topple Democratic Speaker Jim Wright. Bonior has ripped entire chapters out of the playbook Gingrich wrote on how to harass a House speaker.
Bonior insisted that Gingrich be treated in the same manner that Wright had been. "The only way to deal with these problems is to deal with them the way Newt Gingrich has demanded they be dealt with in the past," Bonior said. "He called for an outside counsel."
The junkyard dog role Bonior has assumed on all things Gingrich has relieved other congressional Democrats, as well as President Bill Clinton, from the job of swinging at the speaker.
Bonior has other interests as well. He's a fierce opponent of the North American Free Trade Agreement in a year when his president would like to expand the pact. He opposes abortion, which helps him keep something of a loose grip on his relatively conservative southeastern Michigan district. His tendency for tenacity shows up in his passion for running marathons.
Updated Mar. 3, 1997
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