MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS
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Woolsey vs. Nation
Leaning Towards Woolsey For Congress
By Karen Nakamura
The June 5th primary could herald important changes in the local political landscape. The Democrat contest between incumbent Lynn Woolsey and challenger Assemblyman Joe Nation for the 6th District seat in the House of Representatives is probably the real action in such a heavily Democrat district.
It's been nasty. Former Congressman Tom DeLay's connection to both campaigns became an early issue. While Woolsey accused Nation of support from groups backing DeLay, Nation accused Woolsey having common donors with DeLay. Actually, this is a red herring to many. The real question in these voters' minds is what position is Nation actually taking? After six years as an Assemblyman, is he a Progressive Centrist or a true Progressive?
Voters like both politicians. They do a good job representing their constituencies. During her successful 13-year tenure, Lynn Woolsey has become a national figure for liberal views and is probably the best liked of the two candidates. In fact, in a poll taken in January, Woolsey had a 20% lead over Nation.
So why did Joe Nation decide to take on Lynn Woolsey? The reason is obvious. Nation is being term limited out of his seat. His answer to why he's running is vague, filled with platitudes and digs against Woolsey.
Let's look a little deeper into the candidates' positions on issues dear to our readers.
On the environment, both candidates are ardent conservationist and agree the 6th District is one of the most progressive in the nation. Assemblyman Nation co-authored the first law in the country to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
On the war in Iraq, Nation disagreed with setting a troop withdrawal deadline but now supports drawing down troops within the year. However, he feels a small number of troops might need to stay longer. Congresswoman Woolsey has been committed to withdrawing troops since they went in, "This is a pre-emptive war. It's illegal. It's based on lies… I was the first voice [in Congress] to ask our president … to bring our troops home."
Woolsey is in favor of impeachment of George Bush whereas Nation isn't because he doesn't want Dick Cheney to take over as President.
Concerning the Israel/Palestine conflict, Nation has criticized Woolsey for opposing legislation calling for the disarming of Hamas and demanding Hamas' recognition of Israel's right to exist.
Rep. Woolsey said on the floor of Congress, "…I strongly oppose the route of Israel's security barrier, because it deviates significantly from Israel's internationally recognized eastern border. In so doing, the fence encroaches on Palestinian lands and fully encloses some villages, … If we're going to achieve peace in the Middle East, we've got to get rid of the politics that have tainted this issue for so long on both sides."
Woolsey also notes on her website that she receives input from such organizations as the Marin Peace and Justice Coalition, the West Marin Coalition and the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, out of Novato. She has received no contributions from pro-Israel political action committees in 2005-06.
"As a respected progressive voice in Washington, I [spoke] loudly… for the preservation of our civil rights and civil liberties. I fight against wasting billions of dollars on corporate tax giveaways and on unnecessary weapons systems so we can… provide …affordable prescription drug coverage and other programs."
Nation called education "another study in contrasts" between himself and Woolsey in an op-ed piece in the Marin Independent Journal... "When President Bush's No Child Left Behind Act created problems for California, I passed Assembly Joint Resolution 88 to focus on how Congress should fix the federal act. It pushes Congress to make modifications to the act... What did Woolsey do? As a senior Democrat… on the committee, …she offered no substantive amendments… She then voted for Bush's misguided law - three times."
Most would agree with Woolsey that it was the lack of full funding by Republicans that doomed the act. It should be noted that Ted Kennedy was a co-author of the bill. It's also unfair to blame Woolsey for not getting any bills through a Republican Congress when Democrats have problems even getting their bills to committee. In contrast, Democrats have run the California Assembly during Nation's term.
On education, speaking on the Washington Post's Free Media, November 19, 1999, Congressman Woolsey was questioned about punishing poor schools for poor performance. Her answer was:
"No. I think poor schools should be evaluated and assisted. Schools … need support, not condemnation. All public schools should be the best schools in the world -- therefore …[no] vouchers to give a handful of kids a better education."
In an apparent contradiction, Nation sought an increase in the gasoline tax to raise money for transportation repair, support a new system and to promote conservation, an idea popular with many environmental groups. Woolsey opposes the tax.
At the same time, he sided with California governor's candidate, Steve Westly, to criticize Phil Angelides for wanting to close tax loopholes for corporations and shift some of the tax burden to the wealthy. Both Nation and Westly have made statements that any tax increase would adversely affect the workingman, a code phrase that's decidedly centrist. What both have ignored is that bringing upper class and corporate tax rates in line with the middle class is a goal of 79% of progressive voters in California.
Nation criticizes Woolsey for not reaching across the aisle to get things done like he has and touts working with Gov. Schwarzenegger on Indian gaming to keep casinos on the reservations. While working together is great it again raises the question of centrist or progressive.
Nation has questioned Woolsey's record on transportation. "Even though the federal government controls the majority of transportation funds, Woolsey has delivered lackluster results."
In her own defense, Woolsey states, "I've worked to improve transportation in the district, writing legislation that created the Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit District. I also passed legislation that integrates bicycling and walking alternatives into local transportation infrastructure. I will continue to fight Sacramento's foolish plans to expand death row at San Quentin State Prison and, instead, to push for establishing a transportation hub there."
The June Primary is important, Get Out and Vote.
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