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Shuster again faces Barr in Pa. Congressional race

October 25, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- For the second time in two years, voters in Pennsylvania's Ninth Congressional District will get to chose between incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster and Democratic nominee Tony Barr.

Shuster, 47, of Holidaysburg, Pa., is running for his fifth term in the House in the Ninth District. He won the seat in a special election in 2001, succeeding his father, Bud Shuster. He serves on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Barr, 39, of Bedford County, Pa., is a public school teacher who won the 2006 Democratic nomination as a write-in candidate and lost to Shuster in the general election that year. In April, as the only Democrat on the ballot, he won the nomination again.

Both men have spent considerable time in Franklin County in recent weeks vying for the job of congressman, which comes with a base salary of $169,300 per year.

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The Ninth District is made of all or part of 15 counties in south-central Pennsylvania.

Shuster and Barr are polar opposites on most issues, including the $700 billion bailout package designed to shore up the faltering economy.

"I believe this was a crisis at hand and that America had to act and Congress had to act," said Shuster, who voted against the bill when it came before the House, but later voted for the version passed by the Senate. The Senate version contained more safeguards for how the money would be used to buy up the bad debts that are causing the credit crisis, he said.

"There's a difference between doing something and doing the right thing," Barr said. Congress and the Bush administration "took a big pile of money and threw it at the problem" without a strategy for how it should be used, or how taxpayers will be paid back, he said.

"We should be investing in a green-energy economy, so we're not tempted to go to war for oil," Barr said. Wind, solar, geothermal and other alternative energies will create jobs, as well as reduce the United States' dependence on foreign oil, he said.

Shuster said he also favors the development of alternative energy, though he supports expanded offshore drilling, nuclear power and other means of producing more energy domestically.

"The president has said for years, 'When the Iraqi people stand up, we stand down,'" Barr said recently about the war. "The Iraqis are solidifying their country and it's time for us to leave."

"We have been successful in Iraq because of the surge," said Shuster, who said the U.S. still has to "keep the pressure up" on terrorists in Iraq, Afghanistan and globally.

On foreign policy, Barr said the State Department is "horribly understaffed," and the nation needs to conduct more diplomacy in the Middle East and other troubled regions.

"Barack Obama and my opponent believe you can go and talk to these people that want to destroy us," Shuster said. "They thing we can get together and have some kind of 'Kumbaya' moment."

"I owe the people of this district three things -- hard work, to give them the respect to listen to their concerns, and third and most important, I think, is to use my best judgment," Shuster said.

"We need people in there who can think for themselves, not just do what Big Oil tells them," Barr said.

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