Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge represents Chatham and parts of Wake County, and accordingly, his focus is on rural and agriculture issues, particularly small and organic farmers. He is a member of the New Democrat Coalition, a group of moderate, pro-business Democrats.
He voted for more than $6.6 billion in funding increases for conservation programs, including farmland protection and reduction of agricultural runoff. He also voted for increasing assistance to the nation's food banks by $1.25 billion.
Etheridge, who joined Congress in 1997, also has taken stands on education, voting for a bill that would make it easier for students and families to apply for financial aid, and requires colleges and universities to report reasons for their tuition increases. He also supported charging cheaper in-state tuition rates to soldiers and their dependents when the soldier is deployed for more than 30 days.
Dan Mansell, a Republican, is also running. He did not return a questionnaire, but he was spotted at a B.J. Lawson fundraiser driving a large vehicle with signs posted in its windows that read: "Drill baby drill."
Libertarian Will Adkins did not return a questionnaire.
This race is a tougher call than it looks: We cautiously endorse incumbent U.S. Rep. David Price for many of his progressive stands on the Iraq war, media reform, gay and lesbian rights and reproductive rights. We applaud him on those stands, and his support for pathways to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
However, according to VoteSmart.org's political courage test, the 20-year incumbent supports the use of the death penalty for federal crimes; moreover, he—like most of Congress—voted for the USA PATRIOT Act. While he later voted against extending many of that Act's provisions, we wish that Price would have exhibited leadership and courage in the face of the Bush administration's fear-based attack on civil liberties. Ditto for HR 1955, a bill that would authorize the study of homegrown terrorism. The bill's language is so nebulous and open to interpretation that we are disappointed he voted for it.
We also wish he would represent his constituents in opposing the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility. While we understand he has a fine line to walk between his Homeland Security Subcommittee duties and his constituents, Price should remember it is the voters, not the subcommittee, who elect him. Let's hope Price takes the opportunity over the next two years to more fully represent his constituents.
Depending on your litmus test issues, Republican challenger William (B.J.) Lawson is a viable choice. While Lawson's Libertarian free-market stances and opposition to Roe v. Wade preclude us from endorsing his candidacy, he has many progressive views, including opposing the war in Iraq, strong stands on civil liberties protections and a disdain for extending to corporations the same legal rights as individuals. While the safety net for his health care plan has a few holes—he calls for health savings accounts (not achievable for everyone) in addition to insurance to cover catastrophic events—Lawson is right in that insurance companies and bureaucracies are taking health care out of the hands of doctors and patients.
We don't know why anyone would want to be president or a congressional representative right now, but U.S. Rep. Brad Miller does, and we endorse the Democrat from Raleigh to serve his fourth term.
Since our primary endorsement, Miller has introduced HR 6058, a bill that would crack down on the U.S. Attorney's office, allowing the House to ask a court to appoint a special prosecutor for a criminal contempt of Congress charge in which the attorney refuses to present a case to the grand jury. He has also worked to add transparency to the cloak-and-dagger U.S. Justice Dept. Office of Legal Counsel by requiring it to provide its opinions to Congress.
Miller has also condemned the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and its sub-agencies for failing to protect Hurricane Katrina evacuees from excessive formaldehyde levels in FEMA trailers. Miller was also the lead sponsor of legislation to crack down on abusive mortgage lending practices and to give bankruptcy courts the leeway to modify mortgages on home loans. Current law allows those modifications only on vacation homes and yachts. Translation: Only the rich get the breaks.
He also had the courage to reverse his position on the National and Bio and Agro-Defense Facility after many Wake County elected officials and citizens opposed it because it is close to Falls Lake, Raleigh's primary drinking water source.
Miller's voting record is solid: He voted to expand children's health care, which President Bush vetoed, and against allowing the government to conduct domestic wiretapping without a warrant. On the war, Miller voted to limit tours of duty beyond one year and to provide an additional $5 billion in health care for returning troops. He voted for HR 2956, which would have begun withdrawing American troops within four months of its enactment. However, the bill wasn't as strongly worded—it called for a "limited presence" of armed forces—as some war opponents would have liked.
Hugh Webster is a former state senator whose anti-immigrant rhetoric is not only divisive, but at times scary. He's a loose cannon and we don't need him in Congress.