Excerpts from The Tennessean’s setup story on the 7th Congressional District race:
Re-elect her, Rep. Marsha Blackburn says, and voters will get what she’s always given them — a lawmaker passionate about staying in touch with constituents, making government transparent and curing its overspending.
Re-elect her, her opponents say, and voters will get someone who has turned into a Washington insider after 10 years in office.
Such are the battle lines in the race for the 7th Congressional District, the U.S. House seat that has drawn the most candidates in Tennessee this year, with six.
Blackburn, 60, a Brentwood Republican, says anyone who thinks she has become comfortable in Washington and no longer cares about changing things just isn’t paying attention.
“Look at who has been (making) an issue of out-of-control federal spending since Day 1,” she said in an interview. “I have been a solid member of a whole change-agent team.”
…Several of Blackburn’s five opponents, however, portray her as captured by the congressional lifestyle and the campaign contributions that come with it. Blackburn has raised $1.45 million for her 2012 campaign, and her personal political action committee and has cash on hand of $1.26 million. Sixty percent of her money comes from special interest PACs, a larger percentage than for any other Middle Tennessee member of Congress.
“She votes to take care of the needs of the corporate empire,” said Green Party candidate Howard Switzer, 67, an architect in Linden. Switzer says America needs decentralization of its economy — highlighted by more local food production — and more “earth-friendly” policies in general. Switzer also believes these are “apocalyptic times.”
The Democrat in the race is Credo Amouzouvik, a 34-year-old disabled Army veteran in Clarksville. Amouzouvik said he was motivated to run because the low approval ratings of Congress indicate voters are not getting the leadership they deserve.
…Another Army veteran in the race is independent candidate Jack Arnold of Kingston Springs, 38, who just graduated from Vanderbilt Law School. Arnold said he would emphasize changing a campaign finance system that makes lawmakers worry more about fundraising than addressing issues.
…Arnold is the only one of Blackburn’s opponents to report any campaign money to the Federal Election Commission. He’s raised $13,353, a mix of his own funds and some individual contributions, but no PAC money.
Another independent candidate, Leonard Ladner, 58, of Hohenwald, operates his own trucking firm and drives an 18-wheeler. Ladner said Blackburn is “a slick talker” and “a Republican who has been there too long.”
…The other candidate in the race is Ryan Akin, 44, a customer service representative from Bon Aqua who contends “the American way of life is diminishing right and left.”
Akin said his drive to preserve American values would emphasize the primacy of the English language, among other aspects of U.S. culture.
State Rep. Joe Carr, R-Lascassas, has denied telling a reporter that he agreed with U.S. Rep. Todd Akin’s theory that victims of “legitimate rape” seldom carry pregnancies to term, according to The Tennessean, but he stood by his position that the Akin should not be pressured to leave the Missouri Senate race.
The Memphis Flyer reported this morning that Carr told its correspondent to the Republican National Convention that he believes pregnancies terminate automatically after a rape, a medical fiction sometimes advanced by opponents of abortion. The remark — which the Flyer summarized and did not quote directly — came after a lunchtime speech by GOP strategist Frank Luntz in which Luntz asked members of the Tennessee delegation to demonstrate by show of hands whether they agree Akin should step aside.
(The Flyer text in dispute: All except for three naysayers– one of whom, State Rep. Joe Carr of Rutherford County, had previously made a $3,000 bid that won a brief auction held by Luntz for a large portrait of Thomas Jefferson. Looking straight at Carr, Luntz said, “I don’t know what you’re saying, but you can still have the painting.”
Carr would explain later on that he agreed with Akin that women did indeed possess certain biological means to close themselves off against pregnancy in cases of violent rape. He further thought that Republicans had no business telling a bona fide Republican primary winner what to do.)
Carr was one of only a few delegates, alternates and guests who raised their hands to indicate a belief that Akin should stay in. His reported remarks were condemned by Democrats Tuesday afternoon.
“Rep. Joe Carr has shown today what many of the women in the General Assembly have known for a long time — he is completely and totally unfit for office,” state Rep. Sherry Jones, D-Nashville, said in a press release. “Claiming that women’s bodies possess the ability to ‘close themselves off’ from pregnancy in cases of violent rape is not only biologically inaccurate, it is offensive to each and every Tennessee woman who has ever been the victim of rape.”
But as reaction spread, Carr distanced himself from the story.
Carr would confirm that he does not think Akin should be forced to drop out, but he said that view does not constitute proof that he agrees with Akin on the subject of rape.
“That’s not what he (Luntz) asked,” Carr said. “I don’t have an informed opinion on it (Akin’s views). I really don’t. … I just think they should find out what he meant first.”
— UPDATE: Jackson Baker’s followup on Carr is HERE.
U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann strongly disagrees with recent comments made by a Missouri colleague over the improbability of rape victims getting pregnant, but the Chattanooga Republican remains a staunch abortion opponent, according to the Chattanooga TFP. “Chuck believes the comment made by Congressman [Todd] Akin was flat-out wrong and not factual,” Fleischmann spokesman Jordan Powell said in an email Thursday.
However, Powell said, Fleischmann “voted to prevent taxpayer funds from being used for abortion-related costs, and will continue to stand for the sanctity of human life every time he has the chance.”
…Fleischmann’s Democratic opponent in the 3rd Congressional District, Dr. Mary Headrick, rejected Akin’s original statement that women who are victims of violent rape can’t get pregnant as “ludicrous.”
Headrick, a Maynardville, Tenn., physician who practices internal medicine in a rural setting, said she is often called to administer rape kits to possible victims because women and teens feel more comfortable with a female physician.
While emphasizing she had not read the original bill in its entirety, Headrick strongly objected to the phrase “forcible rape.”
“That’s outrageous,” Headrick said. “I’ve had 14-year-olds who have been impregnated by 23-year-olds and that’s rape. It doesn’t matter if she was consenting.”
Headrick said you “have to presume that when a female is underage she doesn’t know how to avoid the sexual activity and you leave her alone. It’s rape. And that adjective ‘forcible’ is just infuriating.”
U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., on Tuesday rejected controversial assertions made by a House colleague, Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., that “legitimate rape” doesn’t result in pregnancy, according to Andy Sher. “As a physician there is no medical basis that could or should have led anyone to make such insensitive statements,” said DesJarlais, who considers himself pro-life, in a brief email statement to the Times Free Press.
But the Jasper physician is making no apologies for his support of a 2011 House Republican bill, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.”
The measure, which passed the GOP-controlled House last year but went nowhere in the Senate, sought to further toughen restrictions on federal funding of abortions. It did that by substituting the phrase “forcible rape” for “rape,” which is part of the current ban.
“I have been a consistent supporter of pro-life values,” DesJarlais said. “This bipartisan bill simply prevents taxpayer dollars from being used to perform abortions. Human life is sacred and taxpayer funding of abortion is counter to the values a great many Tennesseans hold.”
Critics say the bill would exclude statutory rape and also instances where women felt threatened to have sex or where they had been drugged.
— Note: Democrats have a different view. Previous post HERE.
News release from Eric Stewart campaign:
Missouri Congressman and Republican Senate Candidate, Todd Akin, has been denounced for his controversial comments on rape from politicians all across the country, including the Republican’s own presidential nominee, Mitt Romney. Akin has even been asked by many GOP leaders to resign. Scott DesJarlais’s campaign, however, seems to be coming to Akin’s defense, even going so far as directly encouraging Akin to stay in the race.
At noon today, DesJarlais’s political director, Corey Lester, posted on his public Facebook page a message that was directly tagged to Rep. Akin. The message read, “Congressman Todd Akin, Do NOT withdraw from your Senate race.”
A screenshot of the aforementioned Facebook page and post can be found by Clicking Here.
The comments that caused a national uproar from Akin were in regards to what he believed medically distinguishes between a woman being “legitimately raped,” or “raped.” DesJarlais, a licensed medical doctor, and member of two caucuses with Akin has yet to rebuke the remarks that Akin made, or clarify whether they are medically accurate.
“The comments made by Rep. Akin are one of the most disgusting things to be uttered in this year’s political cycle. Congressman DesJarlais has bragged many times about being a doctor in Congress. One would think he would have been one of the first to both rebuke Akin and correct what was said from a medical perspective,” said Avery Poor, communications director for Eric Stewart.
“It seems rather clear now that Congressman DesJarlais hasn’t spoken out against his colleague in Congress because his campaign is actually supporting Akin in his Senate race,” said Poor.
At the time of this release, it appears that DesJarlais’s political director has since deleted both his Twitter and Facebook accounts.
— News release from Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee:
Congressman Todd Akin’s outrageous claims this weekend that some rapes are “legitimate” has prompted outcry from both Republicans and Democrats but when Republicans like Congressman Akin pushed a bill to redefine rape in Washington, Congressman Scott DesJarlais (TN-04) was right there with him. Congressman Scott DesJarlais is a sponsor of a bill that sought to change the definition of rape and incest and limit health care options to women who are victims of “forcible rape” only. Congressman DesJarlais joined Akin and the far-right wing of the Tea Party to claim that that some kinds of rape and incest are consensual and women’s access to health care should be restricted accordingly.
“What’s so appalling about Congressman Akin’s efforts to redefine rape is that he’s far from alone – in fact, Congressman DesJarlais and the Tea Party Congress pushed to redefine rape and limit victims’ access to health care,” said Jesse Ferguson of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “It is shameful that Congressman DesJarlais abused his power in Washington to suggest that rape could be consensual and to marginalize victims of rape and incest in the process. Tennessee families should be able to trust their elected voice in Congress, but how can they when Congressman DesJarlais would try to qualify these outrageous crimes in the name of the Tea Party ideology that’s inaccurate and out of touch.”