Democratic Party Turns Force on Five Freshman Republicans
Roman, Nancy E., The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
A weekly series that examines lesser-known issues and races around the nation that highlight important trends in American politics.
Five of the Democrats' best and brightest flew to Washington last week to highlight their candidacies against Republican freshmen who are at the top of the party's target list this fall.
What follows are thumbnail sketches of these districts, the candidates and the issues.
Rep. Dick Chrysler vs. Democrat Debbie Stabenow, Michigan's 8th District
Mr. Chrysler was elected with 52 percent of the vote to represent a district that stretches from Lansing to Flint and picks up mostly small towns and rural country in between. He spent $1.5 million of his own money in an unsuccessful bid for Congress in 1992. He won two years later on the strength of contributions.
He faces Miss Stabenow, a former county commissioner and state senator whose district covered about 70 percent of the 8th Congressional District.
She is one of the Democrats' best fund-raisers. Through March 31, Federal Election Commission reports show, she had raised $514,433, compared with $517,359 for Mr. Chrysler.
She attacks Mr. Chrysler for his vote to reduce the growth of Medicare and says the federal government should spend more on public education.
REP. CHARLIE NORWOOD VS. DEMOCRAT DAVID BELL, GEORGIA'S 10TH DISTRICT
Mr. Norwood, a retired dentist, captured this seat in northeastern Georgia after promising to help balance the budget and fight crime. His district, which takes in Augusta and suburbs, is dominated by white-collar suburbanites and active-duty and retired military personnel.
When courts ordered the state to redraw its congressional map last year, Mr. Norwood lost 12 of 19 counties that elected him and picked up 17 new counties. The black vote in his district doubled from 16 percent to 32 percent. Still, the district remains solidly Republican.
FEC reports show that Mr. Norwood had raised $663,797 through March 31, compared with $45,100 for Mr. Bell.
Mr. Bell is a trial lawyer born and raised in Augusta. He says he is challenging Mr. Norwood so he can give something back to the government.
His father died when he was 17. Social Security survivor benefits, student loans and a partial scholarship financed his education at The Citadel. After two years in the Army, he went to law school on the GI Bill.
Mr. Bell hopes to demonize Mr. Norwood as an acolyte of House Speaker Newt Gingrich and his "extreme" political agenda.
REP. TODD TIAHRT VS. DEMOCRAT RANDY RATHBUN, KANSAS' 4TH DISTRICT Mr. Tiahrt was elected with 53 percent of the vote to represent a district dominated by Wichita and surrounding farmland. Despite being outspent by nearly 4-to-1, Mr. Tiahrt defeated nine-term incumbent Dan Glickman.
Since his arrival in Washington, he has adhered to the GOP agenda on reducing taxes and government spending.
Mr. Rathbun gave up his job as the U.S. attorney in Kansas to challenge Mr. Tiahrt. He gained notoriety handling the Kansas portion of the federal investigation into the bombing of the Alfred P. …