Politics

Races of the Week

New Mexico’s U.S. Senate Race
Pearce vs. Udall

“Yes, I did serve,” Rep. Steve Pearce (R.-N.M.) said, referring to his stint as a U.S. Air Force combat pilot during the Vietnam War, “It helps me make the right decisions today.”
Like a lot of veterans Pearce never downplays the importance the determination he gained from his service has had in shaping his life following his discharge: a successful oil and gas man, state legislator, conservative (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 94%) U.S. representative for six years, and now the Republican nominee to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Pete Domenici.

As the Republican standard-bearer in the Land of Enchantment’s first open U.S. Senate race since 1972, Pearce is frequently asked how he can overcome what most polls now show is a big lead — 15 percentage points statewide, in one survey — for the Democratic nominee, Rep. Tom Udall.

“Because I’ve heard it all before,” the 60-year-old lawmaker responds, shaking his head. “and I won. I was 18 points behind in this year’s primary [for the Senate nomination] and I won.” Pearce’s better-financed, moderate primary opponent was fellow Rep. Heather Wilson, who graciously endorsed him after Pearce won the nomination. 

With his seemingly superhuman dawn-to-dusk campaigning and mastery of the new science of mobilizing voters through the Internet, Steve Pearce will be a formidable foe for liberal Udall (lifetime ACU rating: 4%), son of former Secretary of the Interior (1960-68) Stewart Udall and a favorite of environmental extremists.

“If you want to pay $2 a gallon for gas, then vote for me,” says the oil and gas man from Hobbs, because I’ve never been afraid to say ‘let’s drill offshore’ or ‘let’s drill in Alaska’ — especially when Cuba is now drilling off our coast. My opponent takes the opposite view, so if you want to pay $4 a gallon, please vote for him.

“I’m also pro-life and he wouldn’t vote to ban partial-birth abortion. And if you take the Obama line on Iraq and want our troops right out, by all means vote for my opponent. I’ve been to the Middle East and the prime minister of Egypt said if we pull out that way, not only the moderate Arab regimes but Israel as well will fall.”

The New Mexico contest offers one of the clearest choices for a major office in ’08. Should his natural allies rally to him in force, the victor will be Steve Pearce — and conservatives will all win.

Pearce for Senate, P.O. Box 2696, Hobbs, N. M. 88241

Michigan’s 7th District
Walberg vs. Schauer

Freshman Rep. Tim Walberg belongs to the exclusive fraternity of members of Congress who got there by unseating an incumbent of their own party. Two years ago, then-Rep. Joe Schwarz had irked many of his fellow Republicans in Michigan 7th District (Battle Creek-Kalamazoo) with his overall moderate voting record (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 59%). Stalwart conservative Walberg, minister and former state legislator, hit this hard. Uniting both cultural and economic conservatives, Walberg defeated Schwarz for renomination by 53% to 47%.

The blood-letting from that Walberg-Schwarz primary two years ago has never really healed. Coupled with the fact that the 7th District has become a large bedroom community for Michigan State University and the University of Michigan, that the election of a Republican to Congress in the fall is no longer a slam dunk.

At 57, Tim Walberg has never trimmed his conservative sails, so it is no surprise that his opponent is about the most fearsome “800-pound gorilla” that Democrats and Big Labor could find: Mark Schauer, minority leader of the state senate.

“And you just name the issue and we disagree on it — any issue,” says Walberg.
Walberg proudly opposed any tax increases or new taxes and has been leading the charge among House Republicans to make permanent the tax cuts of ’01 and ’03. And Schauer? In Walberg’s words, “My opponent has come up with creative ways for government to get more of our money. He supported [in the state senate] a bill to put a 20-cent per gallon tax on bottled water!”

While Schauer follows the lead of Barack Obama in opposing drilling offshore and in the Arctic Natural Wildlife Reserve (ANWR), Walberg backs both. Moreover, the Michigan man has been a key “mover and shaker” behind the “No More Excuses” legislation, which lays down a variety of proposals and guidelines for a more productive U.S. energy policy for a generation. So far, Walberg has collected 149 signatures out of a needed 218 on a discharge petition to get “No More Excuses” out of committee.

Along with offering creative conservative legislation to deal with pressing issues, Walberg is unabashedly pro-life. Schauer follows his party’s national platform on the issue and is strongly pro-abortion.

So Tim Walberg once again faces a stiff fight and the battle lines are drawn clearly. His fellow conservatives need to realize that when someone is forthright with his issue stands, the opposition is always going to be well-funded and hard-hitting — and that’s why Tim Walberg so badly needs their help.

Walberg for Congress, 317 West Washington Ave., Jackson, Mich. 49201; 517-962-4913; Walbergforcongress.com

Pennsylvania’s 11th District
Barletta vs. Kanjorski

Before the Pennsylvania presidential primaries earlier this year, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John McCain were all invited by the mayor of Hazleton to hear how his town of 30,000 was dealing with its illegal immigration crisis.

Not one accepted the invitation.

“And I have to ask about all of them — how can they deal with problems concerning Iran and Venezuela if they can’t come to one town in America and see its problem?” said Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta, who became a national figure last year by taking action on the crisis that had gripped his community. Under Barletta’s leadership, the city council enacted measures that denied business licenses to employers who knowingly hired and landlords who knowingly rent to illegals. Although the measures were eventually stopped in U.S. District Court, and are now being appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals, when they were in force the effect was clear: Crime went down in Hazleton because, in Barletta’s words, “the people who were here illegally began leaving.”

Doing things rather than talking about them is what Barletta has been all about for most of his 53 years. He left Bloomsburg State College to try out for the Cincinnati Reds (“I couldn’t hit a fast ball”), then, with help from his wife and $29.95, started a business line-painting roads that became a thriving company. Barletta went on to win three terms as mayor and was easily returned to office last year, winning the nominations of both major parties.

Now Barletta is taking on Democratic Rep. Paul Kanjorski (lifetime ACU rating: 24%), a 24-year incumbent whom the GOP hopeful brands “a symbol of what people don’t like about Congress.” Barletta cited reports (including one on Fox News) about Kanjorski’s securing a $10 million earmark for Cornerstone Technologies, which employed his daughter and three nephews.

“Then the company went bankrupt, there were no assets, the $10 million was gone and the creditors were out,” Barletta said.

So far, Barletta has raised more than $400,000, from 3,500 small donors in 45 states and most of it online. Moreover, a recent National Republican Congressional Committee poll showed the Republican hopeful actually leading Kanjorksi by five percentage points districtwide.

But Barletta wasn’t surprised, saying, “The mood of the country is one of anger toward Congress — Democrats and Republicans — and their lack of action. It’s a nice contrast, I think, to have a mayor who really does take action.” 

Lou Barletta for Congress, P. O. Box 128, Hazleton, Pa. 18201; 570-454-0636; loubarletta.com


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