Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Challenger Wages Uphill Battle to Fend off Fowler Landslide

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Challenger Wages Uphill Battle to Fend off Fowler Landslide

Article excerpt

If experience, incumbency, money and name recognition count for

anything in politics, U.S. Rep. Tillie Fowler would appear to be

in pretty good shape for re-election.

Nobody even bothered to oppose the Jacksonville Republican for

her second term in 1994.

But that has not stopped Gregg Trude of Jacksonville Beach from

challenging her in the Republican primary.

Why run against a popular incumbent?

Trude said he knocked on doors and found that popularity was a

myth.

"She's more popular in her own mind than in the voting

populace," he said.

After reviewing Fowler's poll numbers, however, the Democratic

Party once again was convinced of her popularity. The party was

unable to convince any Democrat to challenge her.

While Fowler is labeled a fiscal conservative in Congressional

Quarterly's Politics in America, Trude said she is vulnerable on

social issues such as abortion.

He said she voted for fetal tissue research, for a protected

zone around abortion clinics and against requiring parental

consent for teenage abortions.

Fowler said Trude doesn't understand the issues or her votes.

She said she voted for legislation allowing fetal tissue

research because it is important to finding a cure for such

diseases as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. Fowler said the bill

she supported contained strict restrictions to prevent abortions

for that purpose.

"He probably never read the bill and doesn't know the

restrictions are in there," she said.

Fowler said she supports parental consent, but the amendment

that was under discussion had technical and legal problems.

Trude describes himself as a Christian and said he would

emphasize Christian morals and values in his campaign.

He faces some troubling questions about his past. On the day he

qualified for the race, Trude had to clear up some outstanding

arrest warrants issued against him for writing bad checks. He

acknowledges being fired from one job in Jacksonville when his

employer learned he lacked the required college degree.

Fowler, a lawyer, describes herself as a common-sense

conservative. The two-term congresswoman is emphasizing economic

issues in the campaign.

She said she will continue to push for tax cuts, cuts in

government regulations and a balanced budget.

"I want to keep going in the direction we're going," she said.

"I think it's a healthy one. I think balancing the budget is

critically important."

Fowler also is emphasizing her role on the House National

Security committee and Transportation and Infrastructure

committee, where she has worked to improve Jacksonville area

military bases and depots and to obtain funding for such

projects as the new Fuller Warren bridge. …

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