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Regional Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, November 2, 2006

21st Congressional District
Republican Redlich challenges incumbent McNulty

By Jarrett Carroll

ALBANY COUNTY — A Republican underdog from Guilderland is once again challenging the long-time Democratic Congressman from Green Island to represent the 21st District.

In 2004, Congressman Michael McNulty got 70 percent of the vote — in a district that includes Albany, Schenectady, Montgomery, Schoharie, Rensselaer, Fulton, and Saratoga counties — to Redlich’s 30 percent.

While Redlich said at the time, he had hoped to do better, he still did 5 percent better than McNulty’s last six candidates.

The only points of loose agreement between the two highlighted in interviews with The Enterprise this week are that the United States needs to withdraw from Iraq and that New York needs to aggressively pursue embryonic stem-cell research.

The candidates hold opposing views on issues including taxation, gay marriage, Tech Valley, government spending, homeland security, and the minimum wage.

McNulty has served in Congress since 1988 after Sam Stratton retired from the post. Redlich is a former professor at Albany Law School who runs a Guilderland law office.

McNulty is running a well-financed campaign, stressing his experience and the federal funding he brings to the area. He says that, if the Democrats win the majority in the House of Representatives, his seat on the Ways and Means Committee will make him a powerful chairman of a subcommittee for that majority.

Redlich is running on a shoestring budget that is accepting no campaign contributions; he is using all his own money and primarily uses internet-based advertising. His major themes are "Stop wasting money" and, "Bring home our troops now." He is talking about not only the troops in Iraq, but the troops in rich nations like Germany and Japan, and even South Korea.
The candidates have run issue-based campaigns and had two debates, which they both said went "very well."

"We’d like to win, but we recognize the odds are not that good," Redlich admitted. "Well, when I say ‘we,’ what I really mean to say is ‘I’."

McNulty said that he "feels pretty good" about his campaign.

"I think highly of Warren. He has some well-thought-out arguments," said McNulty. "I just happen to disagree with him on most of them."

Stem-cell research

One big issue in the upcoming mid-term elections is embryonic stem-cell research. Recently, President George W. Bush vetoed a bill from Congress that would have expanded funding and relaxed restrictions on such research. It was the first veto of his term.

According to many scientists and advocates, stem-cell research could lead to treatments or even cures of such debilitating diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and would lead to numerous scientific and medical advances. (See editorial)

Both candidates agree that this is the future of medicine and it should be used immediately.

"I’m against the President’s restrictions," said McNulty. "I think it’s one of the most important things we can do today to aid our sick and ailing citizens. It’s one of the most pro-life movements in my entire generation."

Redlich agrees, but, staying true to his campaign slogan, he said the government should not be paying for it.

"The most important thing is to get the government out of the way and let the private sector do their research," Redlich said. "Anyone who wants to should be able to do the research."

Redlich added that, if government restrictions were eliminated, private industry would be able to do much better research without the strings attached by government money. He included cloning in this category as well.

Both say, if elected, they will vote to override the President’s veto.

Iraq war

Although both McNulty and Redlich want to withdraw troops from Iraq, their approaches differ.

McNulty is calling for a timetable to withdraw and wants to re-concentrate some troops for the hunt of Osama bin Laden. He told The Enterprise that he voted for the war in the first place under false pretenses and misinformation from the Bush Administration.

"I’ve opposed the war in Iraq from the beginning, but Mike McNulty originally voted for that war," said Redlich. "He takes no responsibility for that vote. He says he now wants to withdraw, but he voted for more funding for the war"That’s a sharp contrast between us."

Redlich maintains that, even if he had been presented with the original information at that time, he still would have voted against the war, and, he says, McNulty should have done the same. But Redlich doesn’t stop there.

Redlich said the United States should not only withdraw from Iraq but from all wealthy nations.

"We spend $200 billion on defending Europe, Japan, and South Korea. Tell me our exit strategy for these countries. I think it’s baloney," said Redlich. "It’s inertia from World War II"It’s long past time we left."

McNulty called those countries "strategic necessities."

"My friend Warren is an admitted isolationist," McNulty responded through The Enterprise. "We are a policing force in the world." Continuing, McNulty said that the Army bases in these countries are needed for protection and in order to respond to world disasters.

McNulty added that Iraqis are not standing up for themselves and need to be responsible for their own protection.

"The training process is not the problem," said McNulty. "We train top notch people in this county in six months"The Iraqis just are not stepping up."

Redlich, who has lived and taught in Japan, countered this by saying America occupied Japan for seven years before leaving it to govern itself. The process is not going to happen in just a couple of years, he said.

No Child left behind

The federal No Child Left Behind Act has set rigid standards for New York students and has placed teachers in the forefront of their pupils’ preparation for standardized testing. The results have been mixed.

"The concept was generally good; the administration was generally ungood," said McNulty. "I think it was a giant unfunded mandate"I came from local government and there is nothing harder than a higher level of government telling you that you have to do something and then leaving the funding up to you."

Redlich said the act is worthless.

"I don’t think choosing pretty names for bills make them right," said Redlich, who included the Patriot Act in the statement. "Tests are a great measure of test-taking ability, not of knowledge"As far I know, there are still children being left behind."

Redlich said the act goes against the 1994 Republican revolution in which Newt Gringich, then speaker of the House, promised Americans no more unfunded mandates.

"The federal government should not be involved with education. The states are doing just fine," Redlich said. Referring to his years at Guilderland High School, Redlich went on, "I graduated high school in 1984; there was too much testing then"We’re way over-tested in this country."

McNulty does not object to the concept of the act, only to the lack of funding.

Redlich said that he favors vouchers, and said schools should compete for good students just like students have to compete for good schools.

"That’s why our state university system is so good," he said.

The economy

On the economy, both candidates say that New York is in pretty good shape, especially around the Albany area because of state government, but that other areas are in need. In particular, Western New York.

McNulty says that initiatives like Tech Valley are good for high-level job growth, but the most important thing is for the federal government to stop giving tax breaks to the rich and to focus instead on helping the middle and lower classes.

"One of the things you don’t do is have multi-trillion-dollar tax cuts for millionaires," said McNulty. "They’ve taken so much money out of the revenue stream that they have left us in debt"I want a Democratic Congress going into next year so we can stand up to this."

Redlich said the poor and middle class are doing better today then they have in the past.

"I think the economy is doing good, although I think the house market bubble is about to burst," Redlich said. "By and large, I think we’re better off. I have clients who are poor and they have Roadrunner cable, large TVs, and everything"The poor are much better off than they were 50 years ago."

The Tech Valley initiative is good, said Redlich, but too much government money is being spent to entice businesses.

"I don’t believe the government should throw a million dollars at a chip plant and I don’t agree with Malta for a site," Redlich said about the technology plant proposed for Malta. "I’m happy it’s going in"but I think it’s a ridiculous amount of money."

Redlich said a more economically depressed area with a better water supply, such as Fulton County, would be more appropriate.

McNulty said each evaluation depends upon a case-by-case basis, but that he, too, is concerned about the amount of money being used as initiatives for businesses. Overall, he said, the Tech Valley businesses have been a huge success and will continue to be as the area grows.

Redlich also strongly supports a strong centralized mass transportation system, such as a monorail system along the Northway and Interstate 90, in the Capital District. It would reduce fuel consumption, invoke business growth along the lines, and make the area more attractive to outsiders and tourists, he said, all the while containing sprawl and improve accessibility, he concluded.

Continuing, he said it would also reduce drinking and driving fatalities and accidents and be cost effective for commuters. He called it both an environmentally and economically sound initiative.

On minimum wage, McNulty said, "I think the fact that we haven’t raised the minimum wage in over a decade is a disgrace." And, he dismissed any notion that the increase would affect small-business owners.

"I guarantee you that, if we have a Democratic House, that bill will be on the floor during our first days of office," he said of a wage increase.

Redlich strongly disagrees.

"If you make Burger King pay its workers $13 an hour, say goodbye to 99-cent burgers, and no more cheap Whoppers," he said. "You’ll kill the low-margin businesses."

Continuing, he called minimum wage hikes one of the partisan wedge issues, like abortion or the death penalty.

"Republicans use gay marriage and Democrats use the minimum wage," he said.

The rest

On other issues of interest, here is where the candidates stand:

— The death penalty: Both are opposed.

Redlich is opposed not because of moral objections, but because the justice system is full of prosecutors and police officers who "lie, cheat, and steal," he said.

McNulty is simply against it;

— Gay marriage: McNulty is opposed; Redlich is in favor.

"I think gay people are entitled to be just as miserable as the rest of us," said Redlich. "My friend from college is gay and I see him as no threat to my marriage. The only threat to my marriage is me."

McNulty said, "I believe in equality"I support civil unions." He said that gay partners should be entitled to all of the financial and medical benefits provided to heterosexual couples;

— Abortion: McNulty opposes government funding, Redlich opposes government involvement.

— Cleanup of old Army depots: McNulty favors more federal funding; Redlich favors some funding that would pull in private investors for industrial parks; and

— Airport Security: McNulty favors increased security, Redlich opposes increased security.

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