Michigan’s 9th U.S. House District
Raczkowski vs. Peters
Tough times and tough missions have been a way of life for Andrew Raczkowski.
The son of a Nazi concentration camp survivor, Raczkowski joined the Army as an enlisted man and graduated from the University of Michigan Law School. After graduation from Officers Training School (“the best leadership training you can get”), Raczkowski rose to the rank of major and served in the Horn of Africa as part of “Operation Enduring Freedom”—an early part of what is now the U.S. mission in Afghanistan. In May of ’04, while serving on the Somali Regional State, the young Army infantry officer from Michigan earned the Bronze Star.
On the civilian front in Oakland County, Mich., Raczkowski’s experiences have not been so different from those in uniform. After co-chairing the county committee behind the 1994 statewide initiative limiting the terms of state legislators, Raczkowski himself served the legal limit of three terms in the state house of representatives and was majority leader at age 28. In ’02, when Republicans were hard-pressed for a strong candidate to run against five-term Michigan Democratic Sen. Carl Levin, Rocky and his friends launched a shoestring campaign.
Although the Republican nominee drew only 38% of the vote against the veteran Levin, in the process he laid the groundwork for a future campaign. That would come in 2010, as Raczkowski rolled up 46% of the vote against three primary rivals and became the GOP’s standard-bearer against arch-liberal Democratic Rep. Gary Peters.
How Peters got to Congress was a matter of timing and circumstances. Well-known from waging a close race for state attorney general, and fueled by donations from national left-wing groups and Big Labor, Peters rode a national Democratic tide in ’08 to narrowly edge out eight-term Republican Rep. Joe Knollenberg.
“And now he has a record to defend [lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 8%] and it’s more Speaker Nancy Pelosi than Oakland County,” says Raczkowski. “Cap and trade, the healthcare takeover, the failed stimulus plan, the TARP bailout—you name it, if Pelosi and Obama are for it, so is my opponent. I can’t wait until we debate. Let me at him.”
Speaking to Kiwanis luncheons, Lions Club breakfasts, and meetings of his fellow veterans throughout the 9th District, the man whom everyone starts calling “Rocky” minutes after meeting him contrasts his own vision of greater freedom and less government with that of Peters. As he put it, “If its supporters are right and that $767 billion stimulus package created three million new jobs, that means $262,000 per job. It just doesn’t work. Tax cuts are the best stimulus of all.”
It is said that tough times go away, but tough people don’t. So it is with Rocky Raczkowski. And if his fellow conservatives rally to his side, he can say on the House floor wht he now says at VFW halls: “We need more patriots and fewer politicians in Washington.”
(Rocky for Congress, 34122 Woodward Ave., Birmingham, Mich. 48009; 248-556-4400; wwwrockyworksforus.com)
Missouri’s U.S. Senate Race
Blunt vs. Carnahan
There’s almost no argument on this one: The two best-known names in Missouri politics are Blunt and Carnahan. And perhaps that is why the race for the seat of retiring Sen. Christopher “Kit” Bond (R.-Mo.) is drawing so much attention: Everyone, it seems, knows Republican nominee Roy Blunt and Democrat Robin Carnahan.
Roy Blunt, 60, has been on the Show Me State political scene for more than two decades: as two-term secretary of state, an unsuccessful candidate for governor in 1992, president of Southwest Baptist University, U.S. representative from his state’s 7th District since 1996 and, until recently, House Republican whip.
Robin Carnahan is presently Missouri’s secretary of state and sports a political pedigree almost unmatched by any current politician: grand-daughter of a U.S. representative, daughter of the late Gov. (1992-2000) Mel Carnahan and of former U.S. Sen. (2000-02) Jean Carnahan, and brother of Rep. Russ Carnahan (D.-Mo.).
Along with being known by most voters, opponents Blunt and Carnahan offer as clear a choice on the ballot anywhere in 2010. Along with his conservative voting record in Congress (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 93%), fifth-generation Missourian Blunt has been in the forefront of every major fight to cut spending in all the major pro-life efforts in Congress and in the efforts to stop Obama-backed healthcare, the federal stimulus package and Big Labor’s cherished “card-check” scheme.
“My philosophy, pure and simple, is that people are bigger than government and not the other way around,” says Blunt. “As for my opponent, well, she’s where Barack Obama is. That’s why he came here to speak on her behalf and raise money for her.”
Most recently, the clear differences between Blunt and Carnahan have been even more sharply delineated by their state’s landslide (72%) enactment of Proposition C, which puts Missouri foursquare against government’s mandating that citizens purchase health insurance. With Blunt as one of its stalwart champions, Proposition C not only passed resoundingly, but also won in all but two of Missouri’s counties even though proponents were outspent 2-to-1 by opponents—one of whom was, to the surprise of almost no one, Robin Carnahan.
The press attention on Proposition C focused fresh attention in the state on the issue of healthcare and energized the conservative grassroots in Missouri. But that’s still not enough, given Carnahan’s all-out backing from groups ranging from the American Trial Lawyers Association to the League of Conservation Voters. Conservatives nationally are wanted and very much needed to make it “Sen. Roy Blunt (R.-Mo.).”
(Friends of Roy Blunt, P.O. Box 50100, Springfield, Mo. 65805)
Pennsylvania’s 3rd U.S. House District
Kelly vs. Dahlkemper
In a year when the number of candidates for Congress with backgrounds in small business and the free market is higher than normal, it is probably a bit over the top to say that Mike Kelly is the embodiment of those values.
But in Pennsylvania’s Erie-based 3rd District, it is clear that Republican U.S. House nominee Kelly superbly embodies the values of the small businessman and entrepreneur. It is the contacts he made and the trust he earned while spending his adult life in business that helped Kelly top five opponents to win the GOP primary for Congress. And it is his passionate belief in free enterprise and freedom that presents the most dramatic contrast to his Democratic opponent, freshman Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 13%).
Following his graduation from Notre Dame University, the young Kelly went to work for his father’s Chevrolet-Cadillac dealership. Selling as many as 220,000 cars in one year, he helped the firm to grow to where it employed as many as 110 people and then Kelly added Hyundai and Kia branches to the family business. Along the way, he was elected to the Butler School Board and later to the Butler City Council. Now 62, a father of four and grandfather of four, Kelly is running for Congress at a time in life when many of his contemporaries are contemplating retirement.
Two years ago, first-time candidate Dahlkemper, riding what Kelly calls “the perfect storm” for Democrats, ran fierce attack ads against seven-term Republican Rep. Phil English on Pittsburgh television, and narrowly won the seat.
“And now we know her,” says Kelly. “She said in ’08 her major concern was the national debt.
Then she voted to increase the deficit by voting for the stimulus package that doesn’t work. She said in ’08 she was pro-life and then she voted for the Democrats’ healthcare package that doesn’t include a firm ban on tax dollars for abortion. And I’m convinced she would have voted for cap and trade, but Nancy Pelosi didn’t need her vote and let her off the hook.”
Of his own philosophy, the conservative hopeful simply says: “I’m strongly pro-life and believe that if a business is in the Yellow Pages, government doesn’t have to compete with it. And my values are those of Northwest Pennsylvania, not San Francisco.”
Perhaps that says it best about Mike Kelly and is the strongest reason for conservatives to help elect him to Congress from Pennsylvania’s 3rd District.
(Mike Kelly for Congress, P.O. Box 476, Lyndora, Pa. 16045; 724-712-1243; www.mikekellyforcongress.com)