Congressional hopefuls talk back

John Douglass and Robert Hurt oppose each other in Virginia’s 5th Congressional District, while Andy Schmookler and Bob Goodlatte battle for Virginia’s 6th Congressional District on the Nov. 6 election. The Champion sent each candidate a list of important questions relating to their policies and these are their respective answers.

Douglass draws on experience

What specific policies would you support to create jobs and stimulate the economy?

After advocating for aerospace manufacturing jobs, I can tell you that a highly skilled workforce attracts high paying jobs. Everywhere I go, people agree that if we stopped spending $330 million a day in Afghanistan, one week’s worth of that money in the Southside would finance the type of apprenticeships and training programs I helped put in place for ship-building. But to promote local growth, I know as a small family farmer that there is so much more to help improve access to lending and reward small businesses for hiring more workers.


What separates you from the other candidate?

While I am campaigning for Congress to help Virginia families get a fair chance at a better future, Corporate PACs are bankrolling Congressman Hurt’s campaign to bankrupt our nation’s future by continuing deficit-funded tax subsidies for corporate outsourcers, ending Medicare as we know it and refusing to stop dangerous uranium mining that threatens our district. This election is about more than Republican vs. Democrat or Wall Street vs. Washington. This time, it is about choosing good over greed.

What are your top five priorities, and what would you do to make your political goals become a reality?

I am running for Congress to help Virginia families — in both parties — get a fair chance at a better future. My plan will help support parents and students by rewarding teachers who boost college and career readiness, bring job creators and seekers together by easing access to lending and encouraging hiring, protect retirees and veterans from the Ryan-Hurt budget cuts, keep communities safe from uranium mining and other threats to our borders and costs, and honor America’s founders by defending the personal liberties under attack by the state legislature. Right now, our district is being hurt by too many career politicians in Washington who are bought and paid for by their corporate campaign contributors. Having spent my life in public service, I have no interest in catering to party leaders or power brokers. I hope to earn your support in November, because I care too much about those we love not to take action.

What steps would you support to reduce the national debt?

I believe there is plenty of waste to cut out of all programs, including the Pentagon. In the Navy, I cut through the “red tape” to balance budgets for ship building and built more ships for less money. Let us start by bringing our troops home from Afghanistan. With the money we spend there in one day, we could set up apprenticeships and new worker training programs for our returning veterans and other Virginians looking for work. My opponent’s vote to keep troops in Afghanistan and his pledge to oppose any federal revenue growth threatens to bankrupt our nation’s future. Even if we allow tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires to expire, I will push for tax simplification that rewards hard work and fair play. This will allow us to finance lasting investments in education, technology development and transit projects that ultimately boost incomes and federal revenues, helping America continue leading the world.

What specific laws, if any, would you support regarding abortion?

I agree with the law of the land that leaves family planning decisions up to families away from the Virginia legislature, free from outside intrusion. And I will tell any politician that forces their agenda on Virginia women that no means no, whether it is painful ultrasound procedures or delegitimizing victims of rape. While respecting medical decisions between a mother, a doctor and God, my personal faith inspires me to support contraception and abstinence education, along with childcare assistance for new moms.

What is your position regarding whether marriage should be between one man and one woman or whether it should also include people of the same sex?

I spent my life protecting the freedom of religion and promoting civil rights, and I believe there are two kinds of marriages. One is in a court of law, and the other is in a church. I support a church’s right to practice their faith in their own way, but on the other hand, I think people should be allowed to have a state marriage in a courthouse because we are all equal. We can honor America’s founders in this way, by continuing the fight for equality.

Why should college students feel inclined to vote for you?

We need to do much more to expand access to college with a direct loan program that offers more delayed interest loans, Pell Grant levels that account for rising tuition costs and scholarships for those who commit to public service. At the same time, keep costs in check by making student loans accessible at low interest rates, along with tax credits for childcare and tuition like the American Opportunity Tax Credit for children pursuing higher degrees. Yet my opponent joined the fringe of his party to allow student loan rates to double. Raising two teenage boys, including a 14-year- old with autism, with my wife Susan, I understand that America’s growth takes parents who work hard and teachers who give them a chance at college and a career.

Hurt pushes for jobs creation


What specific policies would you support to create jobs and stimulate the economy?

With unemployment unacceptably high in the 5th District and across the country, my top priority in Congress continues to be promoting policies in Washington that will lead to job creation by reducing Washington-created uncertainty. High energy prices, record deficits and debt, unnecessary regulations that hinder small businesses, and the threat of tax increases looming at the end of the year are all contributing to this uncertainty. In Congress, I have supported a pro-growth agenda that addresses all of these issues and reduces this uncertainty. We in the House have adopted budget plans that rein in reckless spending and put us on a path to balancing the budget.


The House has identified regulations that harm growth and passed bills that minimize their disastrous effects. We have advanced a responsible energy policy that reduces our dependence on foreign sources of energy and creates jobs at home. And the House has passed legislation to prevent a massive tax increase on every American family and thousands of small businesses.

By adopting pro-growth reforms that return our country to its founding principles of limited government, free enterprise and individual liberty, we can get our economy back on track, create the jobs we desperately need and preserve the American Dream for our children and grandchildren.

What separates you from the other candidate?

At a time when our nation is facing this debt and job crisis, we need real leaders in Washington who are more worried about the next generation than they are their next election. On behalf of the people of the 5th District and on behalf of our children and grandchildren, I am committed to reducing our debt and deficit, creating jobs on Main Streets across the 5th District and making the tough decisions necessary to get this country back on the right track.

What are your top five priorities and what would you do to make your political goals become a reality?

My top priorities include:

Reduce Washington-created uncertainty to spur economic growth and create jobs.
Pass a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution and implement real budget reforms to reduce our debt and deficits.

Adopt an “all-of-the-above” responsible energy policy in order to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, enhance our energy security, create jobs and reduce energy prices.

Reform our broken tax code, which creates uncertainty for our small business owners and families, and make it fairer and flatter for all Americans.

Repeal the president’s health care law which is bankrupting our country and driving insurance premiums up and replace it with patient-centered solutions that will ensure access to affordable, quality care.

What steps would you support to reduce the national debt?

My first act as a member of Congress was co-sponsoring a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution, which would mandate that Congress pass balanced budgets every year. I have also voted for two House-passed budget plans that cut trillions in federal spending and put us on a path to balance the budget without raising taxes on families and small businesses. These plans address the greatest drivers of our debt by making the reforms necessary to strengthen and preserve critical health and retirement security programs upon which our seniors rely. By contrast, a path I do not support is the path the United States Senate has taken — the path of inaction. The Senate has not passed a budget in more than three years. Every member of Congress voted against the president’s budget proposal this year, which offered no serious solutions to address our massive debt. The House has led the way on getting our spending under control where others will not, and as the president continues to add to his record of accumulating over $5 trillion in debt, I applaud the House of Representatives’ willingness to make the tough choices to address our impending debt crisis before the choices are not ours to make.

What specific laws, if any, would you support regarding abortion?

I believe that life begins at conception, and that each and every American, born or unborn, has an inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In Congress, I have voted on a number of occasions to protect life. For example, I have voted to permanently prohibit the use of federal funds for abortion, and I support repealing the president’s health care law and its contraception mandates.

What is your position regarding whether marriage should be between one man and one woman or whether it should also include people of the same sex?

I believe that the institution of marriage should continue to be defined as between one man and one woman.

Why should college students feel inclined to vote for you?

We are approaching the most important election of many of our lifetimes, but this election is particularly important for young people, who have so much at stake.

College students face the risk of not getting a good job when they graduate because of a stagnant economic recovery. They face the risk that more of our freedoms will be infringed on by an ever-growing federal government that continues to expand its role into our lives. There is the risk that our young people will be forced to foot the bill for the debt that years past of federal spending has accumulated because those in Washington have refused to make the tough choices while we still have time.

And perhaps the biggest thing that college students, and all Americans, have at stake in this election is the risk that the American Dream that we all hold so dear will not be available for those who will come after us. There is hope because young people have a choice this November, and the choice is theirs to elect leaders who believe that a limited government will provide unlimited opportunity as it has for generations past. Those leaders are, as I am, committed to ensuring that our college students and all Americans have the same opportunity to achieve the American Dream as our parents and grandparents who came before us.

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