WASHINGTON - U.S. Rep. Ralph Regula,
one of the longest-serving and most powerful members of the
House, faces opposition from a political novice who believes
his experience as a minister can help solve national problems.
“I have experience at balancing budgets, at listening to
conflicting points of view and finding the common ground,”
said the Democratic challenger, Tom Shaw, who has been pastor
of Church of the Cross United Methodist Church in Wooster
Regula, R-Bethlehem Township, is seeking an 18th term in
the strongly Republican district, which includes all of Stark
and Wayne counties and much of Ashland and Medina counties.
A senior member of the House Appropriations Committee,
Regula said he is pursuing another term to increase federal
support for math and science education, preserve national park
land in Ohio and promote research on major diseases at the
National Institutes of Health.
“I would like to expand our math and science programs and
in the process give a greater range of opportunities to young
people, particularly in the engineering field, because there
is a lot of future in that particular program area,” he said.
Shaw, 48, said he is running because of dissatisfaction
with Republican control of Congress.
TAXES AND DEBT
“Our nation was formed to pass on the blessings of liberty
to ourselves and posterity, not to pass on debt to one
generation after another,” he said.
Shaw faults the Bush administration and Congress for
presiding over a growing federal deficit after budget
surpluses achieved during the Clinton administration.
Regula, 81, conceded the administration and Congress have a
mixed record, with a “difficult challenge in Iraq.”
But he praised the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, which he
supported. Regula contends the tax cuts stimulated the economy
and increased federal revenues. As a result, he said, the
projected 2006 deficit has fallen to $250 billion, 21 percent
less than the previous year.
THE IRAQ FACTOR
The candidates reflect their respective party’s positions
on the war in Iraq.
“Iraq was never in my opinion … a threat to the world,”
said Shaw, who favors setting a timetable for U.S. forces to
leave the country. “It’s old news now: no weapons of mass
Regula supports continued training of the Iraqi military
and police until they are able to “take over the country,” he
said. “We need to support this beginning government that
they’re putting together.”
He argues that a timetable would be a victory for
insurgents, who would resume their violent activities once
FEDERAL SPENDING AND TRADE
As chairman of a congressional subcommittee that oversees
$140 billion in funding for education, medical research and
job training, Regula said he has sought to develop a
coordinated response among local, state and federal officials
to a possible bioterrorist attack or avian flu outbreak.
“I’ve taken steps to make the health care system seamless,”
Economic and trade issues divide the candidates.
While Regula backed the tax cuts, Shaw said he has seen
“little if any benefit to the working class, to the middle
class, from these tax cuts.”
Shaw said he would have opposed the North American Free
Trade Agreement in 1993 and the Central American Free Trade
Agreement last year.
“It seems (the agreements) benefit one segment of society
without really benefiting workers here or the workers in those
other countries,” he said.
Regula opposed NAFTA in 1993 but supported CAFTA last year.
A former chairman of the Congressional Steel Caucus who
advocated tougher treatment of illegal imports, Regula said
it’s still “too easy for other countries to dump into the
DRUG BENEFITS AND CORRUPTION
Shaw faults the Medicare prescription drug benefit, which
he said is too complicated and benefits pharmaceutical
companies more than seniors.
Regula defends it as a good program “on balance,” while
adding that Congress should take a look at making it “a little
easier for people to use.”
Shaw also has raised the issue of corruption in Congress,
which he sees as a reason to end the practice of earmarking by
powerful lawmakers who are able to bypass the agency review
process and funnel millions of dollars in government spending
to their districts and political supporters.
Former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, R-Calif., pleaded
guilty last year to steering millions of dollars in projects
to a lobbyist who bribed him. Rep. Bob Ney, R-Heath, also has
admitted trading favors for lobbyist gifts.
“I’d like to see no earmarks,” said Shaw. If they are not
completely eliminated, he said, they should receive closer
Regula is a staunch defender of earmarks who estimates he
has steered more than $100 million in federal spending to the
Before any other changes are made, he said, Congress should
see how recently enacted rules affect the process. The rules
require greater disclosure of earmarks in legislation,
including the names of their congressional sponsors.
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE, 16TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT
Term of office: Two years
Education: Doctorate in ministry, Wesley Theological
Occupation: Pastor, Church of the Cross United Methodist
Family: Wife, Susan; four children
Political experience: None
Why are you running? “I was prompted to run … by a great
love for our country. I’m very proud to be an American and I’m
also very distressed or dismayed or disappointed at the
direction the government has pushed our country in the last
Address: Bethlehem Township
Education: Law degree, William McKinley Law School
Occupation: U.S. representative
Family: Wife, Mary; three children
Political experience: U.S. representative, 1973-present;
state senator, 1966-72; state representative, 1964-66; member
Ohio Board of Education, 1960-64
Why are you running? “We’re doing a lot in education. As
you get better educational opportunities it enhances the
employment opportunity, because people are better equipped to
hold jobs. I think the competitive world we’re living in
requires that we do this.”