An online journal of politics, policy, and society with a special focus on Maryland -- Contact: on_background at yahoo.com.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Go West Young One

So, in the wake of the Lamont upset, the near-victory of Donna Edwards against supposedly unbeatable Al Wynn, the sudden hope given to long-shot Democratic challengers in Florida, New York, and elsewhere by the House Republicans’ bumbling of the Foley situation, and so many other races that have gone the direction the conventional wisdom told us they wouldn’t, let's look together past the obvious.

We know that all of the House incumbents in Maryland are going to win reelection, right? So there’s no reason to focus on anything but O’Malley and the Senate race, right? Nah, let’s talk about the less noticed challengers in tough races to see what they’ve got to offer.

First up is Andrew Duck, the former military man who is going up against long-term curmudgeon, conservative Roscoe Bartlett in western Maryland’s 6th congressional district. Now, we know he's got an uphill battle in this final month, since Bartlett has won by wide margins (over 65% in each of the last two general elections) and Pres. Bush won the 6th CD by more than 60% in the 6th in both 2000 and 2004. But Duck says he hears from a lot of folks in western Maryland that they want change, that “…this year, incumbency is not much of an advantage. People are disappointed with Congress and they want a change.” Last week we interviewed Andrew Duck to get you the details – here’s the short version.

Duck talks about stuff like it being time for a change, cutting the deficit, intrusive government, and our foreign policy weaknesses, proclaiming “As an Iraq War veteran, I know that we have got to have people in Washington who are more focused on accomplishing the mission than making money for their friends.” He talks about ensuring health care coverage for every American by getting back to preventive care instead of all too often taking it to the emergency room. On education, Duck says that No Child Left Behind must be scrapped because it doesn’t work for our kids and creates undue burdens on teachers: “A one size fits all, standardized test is not an effective measure of education. We know that a child that studies music does better in math, one that studies art will do better in english, etc. And any program that says a school that is labeled as "failing" should have their funding cut is not interested in fixing the problem. We need solutions.”

As a former serviceman, Duck has particular credibility when he talks about the fiasco in Iraq: “I also served on the ground in Iraq, and I saw example after example of interference by politicians in Washington because they were more interested in making money than accomplishing the mission. I could not do my job, so I retired and am focused on fixing the problem.”

Duck also says:

"We are losing soldiers and marines every day because of the failed policies. We must change course and change course now."

"We need to transition from traditional combat to peace enforcement and counter-insurgency operations."

"We need to stop torturing people, and hold accountable all of those responsible for torture."

"We need to actually want to bring democracy to Iraq. That means they get to pick their leaders, not us. That is what democracy is all about."

"We need to build security from the local level up, not impose it from the national level down. Right now they are training security forces, and moving the Sunnis to Shia areas and vice versa. We need to build security block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood, allow people to protect their home areas."

"And most importantly, we need to have policies that are focused on accomplishing the mission, not on making money for favored companies. Right now the politicians in Washington are more focused on the money than getting the job done, and it is costing the lives of our soldiers and marines."

Clearly Duck isn’t enamored with Bartlett
, saying: “He claims to be a conservative, focused on balancing the budget, and working for a smaller government. But he has voted for the three biggest deficits in the history of the country and voted to increase the size of government 30% over the last 6 years. We now have the largest government in our history, and it is not able to accomplish the most basic missions, as seen in the response to Katrina last year. He does not listen to the people, and has not been addressing the needs of western Maryland. It is time for a change.”