Smigiel at­tacks Har­ris’ vot­ing record in de­bate

Record Observer - - News - By JOSH BOLLINGER jbollinger@star­dem.com

STEVENSVILLE — Two First Con­gres­sional District can­di­dates bat­tled over their vot­ing records in a Thurs­day, April 14, GOP de­bate, while two other can­di­dates fo­cused mainly on their views, rather than votes.

The four can­di­dates — in­cum­bent U.S. Rep. Andy Har­ris, for­mer state del­e­gate Mike Smigiel, for­mer Mary­land State Po­lice Bel Air Bar­racks Cmdr. Sean Jack­son and Har­ford County res­i­dent Jon Goff — mostly agreed and took sim­i­lar con­ser­va­tive stances on var­i­ous na­tional is­sues dur­ing the de­bate, which was held at the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Beach Club in Stevensville.

While their stances on var­i­ous is­sues didn’t dif­fer much, it was ap­par­ent that three can­di­dates are un­happy with the in­cum­bent. Smigiel at­tacked Har­ris’ record dur­ing the de­bate, as he has for much of his cam­paign.

The can­di­dates agreed on us­ing the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives’ power to con­trol fund­ing to shut down the govern­ment to re­strict spend­ing; not us­ing fed­eral money to fund abor­tions; not al­low­ing a path­way to cit­i­zen­ship for im­mi­grants aside from mak­ing them go through the usual process of be­com­ing a le­gal ci­ti­zen; pro­tect­ing small busi­ness own­ers’ re­li­gious lib­er­ties when it comes to pro­vid­ing health care on is­sues like con­tra­cep­tives; pre­serv­ing so­cial se­cu­rity for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions; get­ting rid of Com­mon Core and elim­i­nat­ing or re­duc­ing the fed­eral De­part­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion; re­peal­ing or re­form­ing the Af­ford­able Care Act; per­form­ing drugs tests on wel­fare re­cip­i­ents; and not al­low­ing civil as­set for­fei­tures be­fore a due process court hear­ing.

The can­di­dates also agreed on re­duc­ing or elim­i­nat­ing the fed­eral En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency — along the same lines as the De­part­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion — to re­turn de­ci­sion­mak­ing to the state level.

Smigiel fo­cused on the Con­sti­tu­tion and the au­thor­ity it gives the govern­ment, and promised to op­er­ate within the con­fines of the Con­sti­tu­tion and to fight those who over­step its bound­aries. He specif­i­cally crit­i­cized Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s ex­ec­u­tive or­der to grant amnesty to im­mi­grants in the country il­le­gally, which the other can­di­dates op­posed, too.

“You don’t al­low the pres­i­dent of the United States to usurp the au­thor­ity of Congress,” Smigiel said. “You don’t stand there and vote to al­low that to take place. When an ex­ec­u­tive ex­ceeds their au­thor­ity, you stop them.”

Many of the views Smigiel took were summed up by a state­ment which he made a cou­ple times on Thurs­day, which is that big govern­ment should not be al­lowed to take a pa­ter­nal­is­tic role and tell states what to do.

All of the ex­changes be­tween can­di­dates were be­tween Har­ris and Smigiel, who pointed to Har­ris’ vot­ing record on large thou­sand­page bills that deal with mul­ti­ple is­sues that aren’t nec­es­sar­ily re­lated, like the 2014 “Crom­nibus” bill.

Har­ris, who has been the First District’s con­gress­man since 2010, con­tin­u­ally de­fended his record and said that he’s just do­ing what he said he would be­fore win­ning elec­tions.

“I told you I’d go to Wash­ing­ton and I’d rep­re­sent a con­ser­va­tive phi­los­o­phy that I think the ma­jor­ity of vot­ers in the First District share and I be­lieve that’s what I did,” Har­ris said. “I’m a real con­ser­va­tive who went to Wash­ing­ton and did ex­actly what they said. I went to Wash­ing­ton and it’s pro­tect­ing your gun rights, it’s pro­tect­ing your right to life, it’s de­creas­ing spend­ing and it’s fight­ing against the pres­i­dent’s il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy.”

Har­ris and Smigiel both said they were the most con­ser­va­tive can­di­date on the ticket, but Goff and Jack­son also staked out con­ser­va­tive views on is­sues.

Goff blamed a num­ber of the United State’s prob­lems on im­mi­grants in the country il­le­gally — from re­li­gious lib­erty is­sues over small busi­nesses pro­vid­ing health care, to partly blam­ing them for tril­lions in fed­eral debt, to the slug­gish mid­dle class econ­omy. Goff also said the govern­ment is treat­ing il­le­gal im­mi­grants bet­ter than vet­er­ans. Har­ris said that isn’t true.

When asked about re­li­gious lib­er­ties and re­quir­ing busi­nesses to pro­vide health care for items like con­tra­cep­tives when it could be against the em­ployer’s re­li­gious be­liefs, Goff said, “This is what hap­pens when we have open borders and the govern­ment is just let­ting every­body into this country.”

“It’s like the Tower of Ba­bel where all th­ese peo­ple built this tower to reach heaven, but no­body could un­der­stand each other, and that’s where we’re at right now,” Goff said. “Our Amer­i­can val­ues are

start­ing to fade away and I want to preserve that. Let’s keep it that way. We can’t even say merry Christ­mas any­more.”

Goff, who lost to Har­ris in the 2014 Repub­li­can pri­mary, said he is in fa­vor of ideas like mak­ing English the pri­mary lan­guage in the United States; build­ing a U.S.-Mex­ico bor­der wall; not al­low­ing birth rights for chil­dren of il­le­gal im­mi­grants who are born in the United States; al­low­ing pri­vate school tu­ition to be de­ducted off taxes; open­ing state lines to health care mar­kets; and not al­low­ing for­eign coun­tries to buy United States farm­land.

Jack­son fo­cused on num­bers and statis­tics to make some of his points, the least tra­di­tion­ally con­ser­va­tive of which is his sup­port for le­gal­iz­ing mar­i­juana, be­cause “pro­hi­bi­tion does not work.” Smigiel is in fa­vor of let­ting states de­cide if they want to le­gal­ize mar­i­juana.

Jack­son sup­ported ideas like re­vamp­ing the United States’ wel­fare sys­tem and rid­ding it of fraud; sig­nif­i­cantly re­duc­ing the scope of large govern­ment agen­cies like the EPA, De­part­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion and the In­ter­nal Rev­enue Ser­vice; in­sti­tut­ing a flat busi­ness tax and re­duc­ing the cor­po­rate tax to at­tract busi­nesses and grow the United States’ tax base.

Jack­son said he’s also for en­act­ing sig­nif­i­cant tar­iffs on for­eign prod­ucts that are sim­i­lar to ones made in Amer­ica; giv­ing ed­u­ca­tion de­ci­sions to the states; us­ing the Key­stone Pipe­line and ex­port­ing oil; and im­peach­ing Pres­i­dent Obama. He also op­posed cit­i­zen­ship rights for chil­dren of im­mi­grants in the country il­le­gally, and sup­ported build­ing a wall on the bor­der.

“I’m just like every­body else. Eighty-three per­cent of Amer­i­cans are dis­sat­is­fied with Congress — I too am one of them,” Jack­son said. “I just want Congress to do what’s right. I want to rep­re­sent the work­ing class. It’s tough right now in so­ci­ety — tough to (get) jobs, tough to keep the money in your pocket when the money is be­ing spent lav­ishly up in Congress and we need to find a bet­ter way.”

Fol­low me on Twit­ter @ jbol­l_s­tar­dem.

PHOTO BY JOSH BOLLINGER

From left, Sean Jack­son, U.S. Rep. Andy Har­ris, Jon Goff and Mike Smigiel are pictured at the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Beach Club in Stevensville on Thurs­day as the GOP de­bate starts. All are Repub­li­can can­di­dates run­ning for Mary­land First Con­gres­sional District.

Fran­chot thanks elec­tion vol­un­teers

PHOTO BY MIKE DAVIS

Mary­land Comptroller Peter Fran­chot, cen­ter, stopped by the Kent Is­land Vol­un­teer Fire De­part­ment Tues­day af­ter­noon, April 19, to thank the vol­un­teers work­ing the early vot­ing sta­tion. Af­ter vis­it­ing Kent Is­land, Fran­chot vis­ited elec­tion vol­un­teers in Eas­ton. Early vot­ing ended Thurs­day at 8 p.m. Tues­day, April 26, is Mary­land’s Pri­mary Elec­tion. Polls will be open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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