Capt. Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger, the heroic pilot who saved the lives of every single one of his 155 passengers through a deft landing of a jetliner on the Hudson River in January, says he is honored that folks want him to run for Congress.
But he respectfully says he will continue to decline requests that he “throw his pilot’s hat into the ring,” says family spokesman Alex Clemens.
“He is focusing his time and energy fully on his family, his work for US Airways, and the other obligations that he has taken on since the dramatic events of January 15,” Clemens added.
I wasn’t surprised. When I called his house, Sully’s wife laughed out loud when I explained why the Times’ political writer wanted to talk with him.
This is far from the first time that Sullenberger has fielded this question. Political sources tell me that minutes after the news of Sullenberger’s hometown surfaced, political operatives scoured the voter registration rolls to find out which party he was affiliated and look at his voting record.
Oh, but what a race that would have been!
Sullenberger is a registered Republican and with his starpower, the GOP might have had a chance for a victory in the upcoming special election to replace Democratic Rep. Ellen Tauscher in District 10. (Tauscher has accepted an undersecretary job to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, pending Senate confirmation.)
Democrats hold an 18-point party registration lead in this district, a nearly insurmountable hurdle under ordinary circumstances. Sullenberger has already proven he can beat impossible odds.
Granted, Sullenberger lives in Danville, which is in Rep. Jerry McNerney’s neighboring District 11. But there is no legal requirement that a congressional candidate live in the district and he could always move a mile or two.
On the other hand, Congress might feel like a demotion for Sullenberger.
For one, he would have to give up those six-figure motivational speaker’s fees. (And good for him. He deserves it.)
But more important, Sully is a true hero. If someone polled his numbers, he probably has a 6000 percent approval rating.
As a member of Congress, his popularity would plummet so fast that even a skilled pilot such as Sullenberger might not recover in time for a safe landing.