US Senate candidate Jim Rutledge (R-MD) has gone on the offensive. Not just against incumbent Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) - but against his leading primary opponent, Eric Wargotz. I recently received an email from the Rutledge campaign stating that Wargotz supports free health care for illegal immigrants. It says as much based on a quote from an October 2009 interview Wargotz did with the Jewish Times. The article can be found here in their archives - costing $3 to view. I decided to see for myself what was stated in the article, not just second hand from Mr. Rutledge or from the Carroll County Conservative Examiner. To follow are some quotes from the article.
The first is a quote from the article discussing healthcare reform:
As a medical doctor, health care tops his list of priorities. "One of the biggest problems is that the federal government and the president have never done a careful analysis of the strengths and problems of the current system," he said."Eighty-five percent of the people approve of their personal health care [according to Rasmussen Reports polls]. All of a sudden, it goes from number three to number one on the agenda, and we're in a crisis?" Dr. Wargotz did not hesitate to criticize both Democrats and rightwing Republicans.
"I was very disappointed that President Obama stated that he wouldn't pay health care for illegal immigrants," he said, bucking the GOP stand. "My ultra-right friends hate this, but I'm not ultra-right. Take the illegal aliens and give them IDs and have small businesses who hire them pay for health care."
This is not in line with the current GOP stance on this issue - or on most American's stance on this issue. What's more interesting is that this stance is still not contradictory with what Dr. Wargotz told me in our interview a few months ago.
The next quote is on stem cell research and abortion:
When it comes to stem cell research, the doctor said,"Aborted stem cells should be available for use upon consent of the responsible parties." Still, he opposes late-term abortions. "I'm a physician and I've seen what third trimester interruption looks like. I have seen 22-23 weeks live from incubators," he said. Mrs. Mikulski, he added,"has supported third trimester abortion in every way, shape and form."
This view on stem-cell research is not necessarily in line with current conservative thought. Most of the more conservative members of the GOP support adult stem cell research almost at the exclusion of embryonic stem cell research. The reuse of aborted fetal cells in stem cell research is one that is morally ambiguous at best. His statement also does not fully elaborate on his views on abortion in general - just that he opposes partial birth abortions. Even some of the staunchest abortion rights activists oppose partial birth / third trimester abortions.
Here's a quote on his political role models:
Some political role models, he said, include Connecticut's Sen. Joe Lieberman, once a leading Democrat and now an independent, who broke with his party over the Iraq War. Likewise, he admires Maine's Republican Sen. Olympia Snow, who is defying her party's blanket opposition to President Obama's health care initiatives.
This shows a moderate temper of Dr. Wargotz. Moderacy may bode well in a general election against a liberal firebrand, but Mikulski is liberal and quiet. She's not a liberal barnstormer like the late Ted Kennedy, Joe Biden, or Al Franken - known for their liberal ideologies. To challenge Mikulski one is going to need to differentiate themselves from her and point out how out of touch she is with the average Maryland citizen.
Here's a final quote on environmentalism and alternative energy:
Environmentalism is another major issue for him. He said he's helped lead his county's efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, which provided a model adopted by the state. "When the president sets a budget there ought to be money for the bay," he said."But [state politicians] have to be accountable. They increase staff instead of putting it into sewer plants." Another major concern, he said, is energy independence ,"the one thing I'm radical about.… We should turn that spigot off immediately. We should go on the Senate floor and say, that's it. We startwith a month boycott." While admitting the economic short-term pain that would cause, he said the long-term results would help the country even more.
Now this quote can be alarming to certain conservatives - as it promotes federal spending for environmental cleanup activities and supports, what appears to be, a month long moratorium on the purchase or new oil. Again, it's not 100% clear - but this type of rhetoric is rarely used by conservative candidates for public office.
In the end - Rutledge was right. Wargotz has been quote on the record stating that he supports healthcare for illegal immigrants. What's more, his views on illegal immigration include the radical idea of handing out ID cards to people here illegally. His views on other social and environmental issues appear to be center-left with an emphasis on getting things done more than political ideology. Sometimes a person who is not an ideologue and results driven can be great - see Mitch Daniels in Indiana. Sometimes, they turn into political opportunists - see Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania and Charlie Crist in Florida. With little to go by besides his word - it's unclear which of these two categories Eric Wargotz falls into.
If you are interested in reading the article in full - pay the $3 and check out the article here. Then decide for yourself if that will impact your vote in the GOP primary.
Cross-posted to Old Line Elephant