McInnis taking on 3 challengers
U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis, R-Grand Junction, is facing three challengers in this congressional election – Victor Good of the Reform Party, Libertarian Drew Sakson and Democrat Curtis Imrie.
Although the three challengers each have their own political causes and agendas, mostly in line with their party affiliations, they have joined together in their two main objections to leaving McInnis in office – the fact that he is running for his fifth term in Congress, and his acceptance of campaign donations from political action committees that have little to do with Western Slope politics.
Among the first things stressed by Good, of Lewis, Colo. (his Web site is at http://www.voteforgood.com), is that he is not running on the same party ticket as presidential candidate Pat Buchanan.
“This is the real Reform Party,” he said recently while in Aspen on a swing through the district.
His basic platform planks, he said, include support for term limits, campaign finance reform, “a new, fairer and simpler tax system,” and a focus on “fair trade, not free trade,” meaning he would like to limit the influence of the World Trade Organization and do away with the North American Free Trade Act and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.
Asked if he is a pro-choice candidate in the abortion debate, he said he prefers to call himself “pro-logic.” That means he would leave the Roe vs. Wade decision in place and would push for greater emphasis on education and prevention as a way of reducing the number of abortions in the U.S.
He also opposes a switch to charter schools as a way to improve education, feeling instead that “we must take what is best in charter schools and put it into our public schools.”
Sakson, a Carbondale resident and mortgage broker, has lived in this area since 1994 and says he is running on a philosophy that says, “Enough is Enough” (his Web site address is http://www.sakson2000.org).
He says he would end the “death tax” that is levied on the goods of the deceased, which he said would slow Colorado’s rampant growth rate by allowing farmers and ranchers to hang on to their family lands.
He also advocates the legalization of marijuana, arguing that “the government spends billions of dollars annually to wage war on people’s individual choices.” He maintains that the prohibitions on drugs are the cause of the violence and huge profits that mark the drug trade, and that a million prison inmates for drug charges is too high a price for society to pay to keep the War on Drugs alive.
A resident of Buena Vista whose main claim to fame is that he has been running in “burro races” for years all over the West, Imrie is running a rather low-key campaign.
At appearances in forums around the Western Slope, however, he has strongly criticized McInnis about the incumbent’s apparent abandonment of his term limits pledge and for his reliance on big-money political action committees.
Imrie, 60, is a former employee of the Climax mine in Leadville. In 1996 he ran an unsuccessful campaign for a seat in the Colorado House. He was defeated by Republican state Sen. Ken Chlouber, who also is running for re-election this year.
Imrie favors a significantly stepped up investment in public education and believes Colorado needs to do a better job of handling the growth that is now being felt all over the state.
He is on record as opposing a law allowing citizens to carry concealed weapons and as opposing the death penalty. He also has been active in the fight to prevent Front Range cities from taking Western Slope water.
Four-term incumbent McInnis reacted angrily to questions about his opponents’ criticism regarding his longevity in Congress and maintains that while he did indicate early in his political career that he would limit his term in office, he has realized since that he was wrong.
“It was a mistake then, and it’s a mistake now,” he said of the idea that he should quit office and leave Washington, D.C. He conceded that he said during his first run for office that “I’d only serve three or four terms” and then quit.
But, he continued, “It’d take the vote away from the people of this district.” He said the congressional system of committees and power is built on seniority, and to give up his rank now would hurt the interests of his constituents.
He also admitted that he did vote in favor of term limits once, on a bill that was submitted to the House of Representatives, but only because “it was uniform.” Had that bill passed into law, he said, all members of Congress would have been forced to observe term limits.
Besides, he said, term limits have been rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court as “unconstitutional.”
As for the charges by his three opponents that he is taking too much corporate PAC money, he replied angrily that none of the three have filed campaign finance reports so no one knows what kind of money they are accepting.
According to federal campaign records, McInnis has raised a total of $820,000 in 1999 and 2000, including $249,600 in PAC money contributed in a variety of corporate categories. By far the largest category, more than $81,000, came from the finance, insurance and real estate community.
But, McInnis said, “I have thousands of individual contributors,” an assertion borne out by federal records.
Overall, McInnis maintained, “I’ve had a good two years,” noting that he has been instrumental in the creation of a number of national parks and wilderness areas. He also pointed proudly to a compromise worked out on the controversial Animas-La Plata reservoir project, which he hoped would lead to the project getting under way after years of delays.
Among the other hot topics in politics today, McInnis said he is not in favor of placing limits on the amount of money that candidates can raise and spend in their pursuit of office, because such reforms do not limit the amount individuals can spend of their own money.
“What you’ve got to do is require disclosure,” he said, so voters can know who is contributing what.
In the area of U.S. energy policy, McInnis said he has hit upon a way to conserve oil reserves that is easy and immediately available – have people change their oil every 6,000 miles instead of every 2,000 or 3,000 miles.
“I’m not talking about a minor impact here,” he said, although he admitted he had not figured out exactly how to calculate the amount of oil that might be saved. “I’m trying to make a national campaign out of this.”
He said the only reason Americans follow schedules of more frequent oil changes is because the lube-and-oil industry wants it that way.
On the health care front, McInnis said, “The one health care system in the country that’s a complete disaster is the one run by the government.” He said Medicare reimbursements to doctors and other providers need to be raised, and there needs to be greater emphasis on “preventative health care.”
In general, he said, the best way to keep the health care system healthy is through the pressures of private competition, because, “You remove competition from the marketplace and the prices are going to skyrocket.”
And, he said, “The more government interferes with market forces, the more things get screwed up.”
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