Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2008

Nine running for 8th Congressional District

War in Iraq major issue for Democrats, Republicans and Green candidates

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Eight candidates who are running for the 8th Congressional District from the two major parties will be winnowed down to two after the primary elections in less than two weeks.

A Green Party candidate will be officially selected at a caucus in March, giving voters a third choice in the November general election.

On Feb. 12 Democrats will choose, from three candidates, and Republicans, from five, their nominees to represent District 8.

The district includes most of southern and western Montgomery County and a sliver of Prince George’s County along the Montgomery-District of Columbia line.

Among the Democrats, incumbent Chris Van Hollen — who, as Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman, has caught the spotlight arguing Democrats’ positions on national television — faces two women who have run for Congress before.

Deborah Vollmer said she is challenging Van Hollen because she feels he has not used his leadership post to get U.S. troops out of Iraq.

‘‘We need our representatives in Congress to be consistent and vote against all budget bills ... that have money for Iraq,” Vollmer said Sunday at a forum in Rockville sponsored by peace activists.

Vollmer — a lawyer who worked for the United Farm Workers union and legal aid clients in California before returning to Chevy Chase about 10 years ago — said Van Hollen has usually voted with the Democratic majority on the war rather than against all measures that allow it to continue.

Responding at the forum, Van Hollen said, ‘‘Congress has to reassert itself in the areas of national security and foreign policy,” including tightening controls on the war.

‘‘Congress needs to bring members of the administration and executive branch before Congress and get the truth out on their witnesses,” Van Hollen said, as well as look at the intelligence reports to find out what the facts are on the ground, so that they are not mislead by an administration that tries to stampede people into making bad decisions.”

Lih Young, an economist who has run for a variety of local, state and federal offices over the last 14 years, is also seeking the Democratic nomination. Young has frequently testified before government committees alleging misconduct and conspiracies by public officials.

Five Republicans are running, hoping to regain the seat held by liberal Republican Constance A. Morella from 1986 to 2002.

Gaithersburg lawyer Bruce Stern said he is a conservative on financial issues, but a social moderate, which he says better positions him to compete for crossover votes in the Democrat dominated district. Stern said he advocates tax relief and cutting spending as well as crafting a strategy to get out of Iraq that does not cut back combating terrorism.

Jay Roberts is a former U.S. Navy submarine officer who has worked as a software architect and as a chief technology officer in high technology companies. Roberts, of Silver Spring, said he wants to ‘‘repeal the Patriot Act ... [and] have a ‘‘showdown with the executive branch over [the president’s use of] signing statements.” Roberts also advocates abolishing the income tax, ending the war in Iraq and restoring civil liberties ‘‘surrendered” in battling terrorism.

Meyer F. Marks, a health care and education policy lobbyist who lives in Bethesda, says he wants to restore ‘‘accountability, transparency and good governance to Congress” and to use technology to engage people in its work. Marks has pledged to work on improving the process in Congress, including spending less time in partisan squabbles and more time eliminating ‘‘waste and corruption.”

Brian E. Mezger, a lawyer who lives in Potomac, describes himself as a ‘‘mainstream conservative.” Mezger is calling for tighter border security and opposes amnesty for immigrants who entered the United States illegally. He also opposes cutbacks in efforts to fight terrorism as well as any ‘‘cut and run” turn on the war in Iraq. Mezger ran in 2006 for the state House of Delegates in District 15 and finished fifth among six candidates in a Democratic sweep of the race for three seats.

Steven J. Hudson, an ophthalmic surgeon and lawyer who lives in Silver Spring, has made his opposition to illegal immigration a focal point of his campaign. Hudson, who spent many years as a flight surgeon and is a commander in the Navy Reserve, says he supports a strong national defense but can be counted on to challenge the ‘‘defense bureaucracy.” He also wants to reduce government spending, lower taxes and reduce the trade deficit with China.

Green Party candidate Gordon Clark is a peace and environmental activist who says he decided to run because ‘‘we have very little time left to make very big changes and I don’t see those changes coming from our Congress.’

‘‘If the issue of global warming isn’t taken care of soon,” Clark continued, ‘‘the other issues won’t matter that much anymore.”

Clark said that the $150 billion the federal government plans to spend to stimulate the economy would be better spent retrofitting buildings for energy conservation. Green remodeling would boost the economy and turn the country in a sounder, more sustainable direction, he said.

Clark, who has worked for Public Citizen and as executive director of Peace Action, denounces the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq and is calling for all U.S. troops to withdraw from that country. He also is calling for a single-payer, national health care system that provides coverage to all.

Fellow Green Party member Brian Crider of Germantown filed to run in District 8, but said Monday that he has since learned that his home is in District 4 and that he will run in that district instead.

For more

For profiles of this year’s candidates, see⁄votersguide08.