Three days ago, Constantin Richelieu stepped down as Speaker of the Panem House of Representatives following what was likely to be a failure to keep the Liberty-Conservative House coalition together, triggering a contested Speaker election for the first time in ten years. Yesterday, a young three-term representative from District 4 assumed the position of Speaker of the House, becoming Panem’s top-ranking legislator.
However, many are asking: who exactly is Speaker Wes Summerfield?
Wesley Summerfield was born two years after the Panem Revolution ended, making him the first Speaker to be born under the new Republic. Born in District 4 to a family of fisherman and sailors, Summerfield ran his family’s business following his father’s death whenever Summerfield was sixteen. Summerfield had a knack for business and managed to expand the outdoors business that his father previously owned into a chain of outdoors stores throughout District 4.
In the middle of this success Summerfield met Maria Ramirez, a graduate student at the University of the Coast in District 4. Ramirez, then a marine biology doctoral student, began dating Summerfield and married him a year later. The newly-married Maria Summerfield was actually the person who first urged Summerfield to run for Congress after seeing the dilapidation of the towns in District 4’s twelfth congressional district and attributing many of the issues to a Labor representative by the name of Francisco Morales.
Summerfield’s first run for Congress was deemed by pundits to be a lost cause. The town in which Summerfield lived was the only town in the twelfth congressional district to vote for the Liberty candidate in previous elections, and the district was considered overall to be a likely hold for Labor for years to come. However, Morales had always been a poor campaigner and had never faced an opponent that had true firepower or clear name recognition. In the campaign, Summerfield portrayed Morales as a lackadaisical representative who was detached from the needs of the district, never coming home until it was an election cycle. Morales, insisting that Summerfield was not a threat due to his previous landslide victories against Liberty candidates, attacked back at Summerfield, but not in a way that indicated any real effort to keep his seat. Ultimately, voters backed Summerfield over Morales that November, resulting in a victory of 57 percent for Summerfield to 37 percent for Morales, with 6 percent going to other candidates. The twenty point landslide indicated that the district was not so dead-set on the Labor Party as some might believe, and it became one of the biggest moments for the Liberty Party in a midterm that was not particularly favorable to them, providing a gain in a district that was never supposed to go for Liberty.
Summerfield then entered Congress, and to Summerfield, that means he went to work. During his first term, Summerfield filed forty different bills, eight of which became law. He established himself as a firebrand, regularly railing against the Canth administration for their tax policies and their foreign policy. For many, Summerfield was a breath of fresh air. To the leadership of the House, Summerfield represented a problem. Leaders like Miranda O’Neal and Constantin Richelieu viewed Summerfield as risk-averse and prone to starting arguments when the leadership was looking for compromise. Summerfield never publicly spoke against the leadership in the House, but his feelings were well-known in the Capitol about how he believed Richelieu to be a poor fit for the Speakership.
Summerfield’s victory also ushered in a movement towards the Liberty Party in District 4’s twelfth congressional district. Voters, who had been disgruntled for years towards their municipal governments, began to vote out their Labor officeholders in favor of Liberty ones after the success that Summerfield had in Congress. Summerfield was swept back into office two years after his first victory by a massive forty-point margin over his Labor opponent, and ran unopposed for the next two terms.
Wes Summerfield’s victory as speaker is certainly representative of his meteoric rise in politics; at the age of thirty, Summerfield also holds the distinction of being the youngest House Speaker in Panem’s history. His time as Speaker begins with a success, much like his initial foray into politics; Summerfield managed to ensure the integrity of the Liberty-Conservative coalition that was set to collapse under Richelieu, resulting in a working majority for the Liberty agenda in Congress. Following that success, it appears that Summerfield will be working to achieve many more victories, most particularly those on President Peeta Mellark’s second-term agenda.