Dark horse Dem challenges Pence
Barry Welsh must be pinching himself. That’s because this Methodist minister and former high school teacher now finds himself competing in a 6th District race that, a year ago, no one thought he could win. Mike Pence, the Republican incumbent, was widely regarded as a rising star in the Republican Party. But that was before public opinion soured on the war in Iraq and before the Foley scandal involving congressional pages heightened public frustration with the Republican majority’s behavior.
NUVO caught up with Welsh to find out how he stands on the issues in this year’s midterm election.
NUVO: Your race is close …
Welsh: We’re a lot closer than we thought we could be when this started. Of course, the climate has been beneficial to us and we’re not going to throw that away.
NUVO: What are the key issues for your campaign right now?
Welsh: Well, one of the key issues is the Mark Foley page scandal. That wasn’t a key issue until the 29th of last month, but everything changed on that day. Before that, it was Iraq and the economy. Both are still major focuses. The saber-rattling in Iran and, now, a nuclear North Korea — things just keep mounting.
NUVO: What does the Foley scandal tell us about the general state of Congress?
Welsh: It says that the Republican Party is more concerned with keeping their party in power than they are with protecting the pages in the Congress. And that includes Mr. Pence. He is in full support of Dennis Hastert [the Republican speaker of the House] and has actually called it just an administrative matter and nothing of importance. I find that unconscionable.
NUVO: What do you propose we do about Iraq?
Welsh: I’ve been calling for a graduated withdrawal from Iraq, a tactical redeployment beginning with our National Guard and Reserves. An easy way of saying it is to say Iraq needs to take the training wheels off and start riding the bicycle by itself. We need to put our National Guard troops back here so that, if necessary, they can help defend the soil of our nation because we have no idea what’s coming. We’ve created so many enemies in the world — both terrorists and nation-states — through the failed diplomacy of the Bush Administration.
NUVO: What are the greatest economic issues in your district?
Welsh: Restructuring trade agreements. The NAFTA and CAFTA agreements, as I say in my speech, have given the SHAFTA to the American workers and how much longer are we going to HAFTA take this? Free trade sounds great, but it’s time we had fair trade. It’s time trade agreements worked both ways. The number of jobs lost in this area will never be replaced but we’ve got to stop the bleeding and start refocusing our manufacturing and our industrial base.
NUVO: What is your position on immigration?
Welsh: My focus is on those that are employing illegally. They are providing the enticement for people to come over here. You can’t blame someone for wanting to come into the country and better their lives. That’s human nature. But those that are enticing them to do so are undermining our economy. We have to get tough on illegal employers.
NUVO: Are there other issues you’re concerned about?
Welsh: Health care. The health care crisis is prevalent in this district. Health care should be a right, not just a privilege for the rich.
To learn more about Barry Welsh and his congressional campaign, go to www.barrywelsh.org.