Congressional Races: A Brief Look at Some of the Interesting Races in This Year's Congressional Elections Is a Reminder That the Legislative Branch Is Where Voters Can Have the Greatest Influence

By Kenny, Jack | The New American, August 4, 2008 | Go to article overview

Congressional Races: A Brief Look at Some of the Interesting Races in This Year's Congressional Elections Is a Reminder That the Legislative Branch Is Where Voters Can Have the Greatest Influence


Kenny, Jack, The New American


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While much of the nation's political attention this summer and fall will be focused on the presidential election, voters will once again determine the makeup of the legislative branch, electing the entire House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate. While we can't cover all 435 House races, we offer here a brief look at a small sampling of the interesting candidates, issues, and races in this year's elections.

"One Seat at a Time"

David Gay -- New York, 25th District "Overthrowing the government, one seat at a time," is the avowed goal of David Gay, a congressional hopeful in New York's 25th District, where veteran Republican Congressman James Walsh is retiring after 10 terms. "Some people look at it as 'anarchic,'" the Syracuse resident says of his catchy but controversial slogan, "but I don't see it that way at all. One seat at a time is not any kind of anarchy."

As he spoke, Gay, who has the endorsement of the New York Constitution Party, was walking the streets of downtown Syracuse, collecting signatures to get on the ballot for the September 15 Republican primary. Republican committees in the district's four counties have all endorsed candidate Dale Sweetland, a candidate less likely to "overthrow" the restrictions on personal freedom that Gay opposes--like the Patriot Act and its broad grant of surveillance power to the government.

"It's just a way to spy on American citizens," Gay says. "It hasn't done much at all to protect us from terrorists." Gay would also vote to end the military occupation of Iraq, a stand that puts him at odds with the top of the GOP ticket, but in harmony with voters in the district, he says. "In the northeast, most people are antiwar, even Republicans."

Gay, whose wife is a native of Cuba, would lift the ban on trade with that island nation. "It hasn't done anything to help the Cuban people," he says. "This embargo has kept money out of the people's hands and kept it in Castro's hands."

A "Ron Paul Republican" who is "not afraid to say it," Gay wants to bring home U.S. troops from bases around the world. "We can't afford it," he says of the far-flung military commitments. "We can't afford to even think about it. Yet we're doing it." Our military presence in foreign lands is also fanning the flames of anti-American resentment worldwide, he said. Referring to the 9/11 attack, Gay says, "There are a lot of things we can do to make sure it doesn't happen again--starting with getting out of other countries."

LEARN, Baby, LEARN!

Scott Garrett vs. Dennis Shulman--New Jersey, Fifth District

Congressman Scott Garrett (R-N.J.) has decided to fight one of Washington's "alphabet soup" programs with a new acronym.

"I've been pushing legislation called LEARN," he says. The Local Education Authority Returns Now Act would "allow states their rightful authority to opt out of the federal control of education and return it where it's supposed to be, at the state level," Garrett says. He would like to repeal the No Child Left Behind Act, but "with as much difficulty as I have getting support for this (LEARN) bill, I would say that's not in the works."

Garrett wants U.S. troops out of Iraq, but says, "Unfortunately, we're in a box, as there's no quick fix." He is opposed to building permanent bases there and is wary of the "Bush doctrine" of striking first against perceived threats. "The best approach to deal with any of these situations is what the Founders intended," he says. "Let Congress make the determination on whether to fight a war."

In Washington Garrett has maintained the reputation for fiscal conservatism he gained by opposing tax increases as a member of the legislature in New Jersey. As a freshman congressman, he voted against the Bush administration's addition of a prescription drug benefit to Medicare. He opposed the leadership of both parties and voted against the Central American Free Trade Agreement.

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