The tech industry, now one of the largest private-sector lobbying forces in Washington, D.C., hasn’t had much to say as Republicans scramble to find a new speaker for the House of Representatives.
But this is changing, as one of the most tech-savvy members, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., is “considering” putting his hat in the ring.
Issa made headlines this morning for announcing his intent to “consider” running for speaker and has turned heads in the well-heeled tech halls of D.C.
“There’s a lot of excitement for Issa potentially running for it, because it’d be a huge win for the tech community,” said one D.C. tech company lobbyist.
“This Congress, and the next and beyond, will have to deal with many issues underpinned by technology, and having someone in the speaker’s chair with that perspective will continue to be important,” said Michael McGeary, former political director of the tech policy lobby Engine Advocacy. “Issa, as an entrepreneur himself and certainly a leader for many years on tech issues.”
The San Diego representative is an engineer by training and made his (substantial) wealth in car alarm technology. As a congressman, he recently created both the “Internet of Things” Caucus and the Sharing Economy Caucus to advance legislation for tech startups in the emerging industry. Most importantly to Silicon Valley, he’s been the Republican architect for high-skilled immigration reform—the tech industry’s number-one issue.
Issa was also one of the first members to come out against the infamous Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which eventually erupted in a massive blackout protest by Internet sites across the web. He even funded his own nonprofit, the Open Government Foundation, which builds technology for publically crowdsourcing state and federal legislation.
For the tech industry, this obscure political fight just got a lot more interesting. And on social media, I suspect that we may witness more political interest coming from otherwise apolitical tech circles.
It’s worth watching, for sure.
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