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Pa. candidates sound off on issues

March 05, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - From sure bets to long shots, 11 candidates for Congress and the Pennsylvania state house fielded questions on abortion and other issues Thursday at a forum sponsored by the Franklin County Pennsylvanians for Human Life.

"I want to thank you for welcoming me as the token liberal Democrat," 9th District Democratic candidate Paul Politis of Greencastle, Pa., told the audience of about 150 at the Knights of Columbus hall. Politis may be a long shot to win in the heavily Republican District in November, but he is running unopposed in the April 27 primary.

The GOP candidates, incumbent U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster and Tipton, Pa., businessman Michael DelGrosso, were also at the forum, Shuster pitching his record in office and DelGrosso talking about the need for new leadership.

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"What I think I've provided for you in Washington is real leadership," Shuster said, listing his support for tax cuts, Medicare reform and working with local officials to bring money to the district for economic development.

DelGrosso said he would address the problems of young people leaving Pennsylvania for better jobs, federal medical malpractice reform so physicians won't be forced to "hang up their stethoscopes" and continued support for the international war on terrorism. He said the district needs "someone with the fortitude to stand up to powerful interests in Washington."

"Is it pro-life to lie to Congress, the American people and the world" to go to war in Iraq, Politis asked in attacking policies of President Bush. He asked if it was "pro-life" for Bush to order 152 executions as governor of Texas.

"Is it pro-life to go over to a country where 500,000 people have been slaughtered?" Shuster said in defense of the president's actions in Iraq.

The choice in the 89th district is between three Republican and one Democratic candidate.

"I am a conservative Democrat who shares the values of this area," said Doug Harbach, a Chambersburg businessman seeking to succeed retiring state Rep. Jeff Coy, D-Franklin. Harbach said he was against legalized gambling and same-sex marriages.

"Two years ago, I took on a 20-year incumbent ... believe me that took courage," Chris Sheffield of Shippensburg, Pa., said of his 2002 campaign against Coy, which he lost by fewer than 500 votes. "If I can be an outstanding leader in the finest fighting force in the world, I can be a leader in Harrisburg," said the former Marine, who practices law in Chambersburg.

"There's lots of attorneys in Harrisburg. I'm not one of them," said Rob Kauffman, a Greene Township supervisor. Kauffman said he has worked on past campaigns to try and put the 89th back in Republican hands and said he would work for conservative issues such as tort reform and property tax reform.

"This is not a career for me," said Chambersburg businessman Fred Stenger, the other GOP candidate. He touted his experience in business as owner of a restaurant supply company and his knowledge of health-care issues as a member of the board of directors of Chambersburg Hospital.

The audience also got a look at 86th district candidates Mark Keller and Sharon Cole, Perry County Republicans vying for the nomination to succeed retiring State Rep. Allan Egolf. State Reps. Patrick Fleagle, R-Franklin, and Stephen Maitland, R-Adams, took part, even tough they have no opponents in the primary or general election.

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