Politics 2004Week of August 2

NEW HAMPSHIRE: THE BRADY BUNCH Lost in the glamour and excitement of the 2004 presidential election and the races for open House and Senate seats is the Republican primary in New Hampshire’s 2nd U.S. Congressional District. Although the race isn’t nearly as prominent as the Bush-Kerry bout or many of the general election contests for open seats around the country, it is every bit as intriguing. It is extremely rare that Republicans unseat an incumbent congressman for reasons other than scandal or embarrassment. But that is precisely what a young conservative swashbuckler hopes to do in the 2nd District (Concord-Manchester) with his challenge to a ten-year Republican House member he considers a RINO (Republican In Name Only). For the past decade, the seat has been held by moderate Republican Charlie Bass (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 77%). Despite his party affiliation, Bass has increasingly racked up a voting record on key issues that is at odds with the votes of most of his GOP colleagues in the House. But to people who were familiar with the 52-year-old Bass before he came to Washington, his “moderate” stance is no surprise. The son of moderate former Rep. (1954-62) Perkins (“Small Mouth”) Bass (R.-N.H.) and a onetime staffer for Bill Clinton’s Secretary of Defense Bill Cohen when Cohen was a liberal Republican House member from Maine, Charlie Bass compiled a decidedly moderate-to-liberal record as a state legislator from 1982-92. In 1990, he was attacked by the right in Concord when he supported a power-sharing arrangement that replaced Republican Ed DuPont as state senate president with a Democrat. In 1994, the year he was first elected to Congress, Bass won a crowded Republican primary with 29%. His nearest rival was attorney and longtime conservative activist Mike Hammond, who polled 24%. Since then, Bass has run almost un-opposed for renomination. ROOTS This year however, a new contender has arisen. His name is Mark Brady, state representative and successful small businessman. More importantly, Brady is a self-characterized “Reagan Republican.” Like opponent Bass, the 39-year-old Brady has politics in his family blood, and his conservative political experience started when he was a young boy. Mark’s father, Larry, an assistant secretary of Commerce monitoring Red trade under President Ronald Reagan, lost primary races for the 1st District (Manchester) in 1984 and 1990. Mark’s late mother, Carolyn, was also a Republican state legislator. Interviewed by HUMAN EVENTS intern Roland Nobile, Brady explained how he expected to beat a ten-year incumbent who can raise the money the way Bass has in the past. “There is a cynicism that permeates, and it certainly permeates out of Washington and out of the political establishment, that views elections purely as money,” Brady said, adding that the Granite State is one in which grass-roots politics and over-the-fence campaigning still pack more of a wallop than money. Brady then said: “I am running against Charlie Bass because Charlie Bass is not representative of the district…and he’s certainly not representative of a Republican primary voter. He has never seriously been challenged ever since [winning the district ten years ago].” Brady then broke down exactly what a New Hampshire conservative is and how Congressman Bass deals with those people. “The core primary voter in New Hampshire, and to be perfectly honest, the core Republican voter in New Hampshire is an anti-tax, limited government, local control, pro-life, pro-gun,” he said, “and Charlie simply has a lot of problems with those people, and he hasn’t voted that way.” As for the life issue, Mark said resoundingly, “Absolutely I’m pro-life, [with] no exceptions.” Asked whether or not he would sponsor any pro-life bills should he be elected, Brady said he would “take a look at what is on the table” and underscored his belief that “life begins at conception.” “I am against gay marriage,” he said. The conservative hopeful believes that the issue of gay marriage must be fought out on the state level before anything can happen on the federal level such as a constitutional amendment. Two weeks ago, Bass was one of 17 Republican House members to oppose Rep. John Hostettler’s (R.-Ind.) measure to remove the issue of marriage from the jurisdiction of federal courts. (See rollcall page 26.) On gun control, Brady is very clear on his stance, saying without hesitation: “I am pro-2nd Amendment. I think that the Constitution clearly states that for individuals–not just for militias and the National Guard but for individuals–there is a right to keep and bear arms and I’ll vote that way. I’ve voted that way on all the different gun bills in the New Hampshire legislature and I will do the same down in Washington; and I won’t compromise the way Congressman Bass has,” referring to a string of Bass votes that clearly placed him on the opposite side from most gun-owners. Among them were his votes against the Pickering Amendment to exempt pro-2nd Amendment groups from the constraints of the campaign finance law; and against the DeLay Amendment (to protect the rights of groups to publish gun-related information on the Internet). He also voted for the McCollum Amendment, which would have set aside $50 million and one assistant U.S. attorney per district to exclusively pursue citizens who commit gun violations and beef up the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. Obviously, these are the key issues that Mark Brady hopes will enable him to score significant points against Charlie Bass before the primary September 14. But any discussion of the race inevitably returns to whether a challenger can match a sitting congressman in terms of fund-raising. Says Brady: “Call me old-fashioned, but I still feel confident that issues and shoe-leather can triumph, at least in the 2nd District. That’s the New Hampshire way.” (Mark Brady for Congress, P.O. Box 786, Littleton, N. H., 03561) SHORTS The Son Also Rises: To no one’s surprise, the easy winner in the Democratic primary last week for the House seat of Oklahoma Democratic Senate hopeful Brad Carson was State Rep. Dan Boren. Boren benefited tremendously from being the son of David Boren, easily one of the best loved politicians in the Sooner State. Elder Democrat Boren served as governor (1974-78) and U.S. senator (1978-94), and has since been president of the University of Oklahoma. A number of conservative organizations, including the National Right to Life Committee, weighed in for Boren during the primary and he is generally described as more conservative than Carson (lifetime ACU rating: 42%). The 2nd District is considered the most securely Democratic in Oklahoma and young Boren is thus assured of victory in the fall. Vinroot Vanishes: Less than 24 hours after placing first in the crowded Republican primary for governor of North Carolina, former Charlotte Mayor and “establishment” Republican Richard Vinroot stunned the Tar Heel State by saying he was abandoning the August 17 run-off and endorsing the runner-up in the race, conservative State Sen. Pat Ballantine. Vinroot, who has lost two previous races for governor, strongly hinted that his capture of first place over Ballantine by a close 31% to 29% was strong evidence he would be in a weak position in a run-off and that it was time for a new face for the party. Ballantine now faces Democratic Gov. Mike Easley. HUMAN EVENTS Power: Holly Robichaud, political strategist for Republican U.S. House hopeful Bill Spadea in New Jersey’s 12th District, could barely contain herself when she called me just before I left for the Democratic National Convention. “That article is having an impact!” she exclaimed, referring to our “Race of the Week” feature on former Marine and Garden State businessman Spadea’s challenge to Democratic Rep. Rush Holt. The article brought in $1,070 in donations from subscribers nationwide, she said, and the campaign was widely distributing copies in the district to potential donors and volunteers. “And, it must be having an impact on our opponent,” she added, noting whom Holt invited last week to campaign for him: Bill Clinton.