WASHINGTON – Even other Republicans say it’s unlikely John Kimble will upset Democratic Rep. Albert Wynn in the race for Maryland’s 4th District seat in Congress.
“It’s not one we have targeted as winnable,” said Joyce Lyons Terhes, chairwoman of the Maryland Republican Party.
Kimble, 36, of Silver Spring, has advocated a number of positions too extreme for the party and the district, Terhes said.
For instance, Kimble has proposed a 10-year moratorium on immigration and the elimination of all welfare, Medicaid and education grants to all non-U.S. citizens who entered the country after 1985.
Kimble said Terhes and the Democrats are wrong to call him too extreme. “There’s a lot of resentment among whites and blacks against immigrants, but they won’t say it publicly. I’m the guy to do that. I say exactly how it is,” said the owner of a paging business.
He also sees nothing wrong with posing nude for Playgirl magazine to raise money for his campaign. He has made the offer to pose, but said he has not yet heard back from magazine staff.
“All I’ve gotten is good press for it,” Kimble said.
He is facing grim party registration figures. The 4th District, which includes parts of Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, is overwhelmingly Democratic. As of February, Democrats outnumbered Republicans by more than 5-to-1, according to the state elections board.
Kimble also must combat Wynn’s voting record, which Democratic officials describe as being in sync with the district – especially on employment and economic issues.
“I can’t make a case for why people would be unhappy” with Wynn, said Richard Parsons, executive director of the Maryland Democratic Party. “From the government shutdown to jobs, he’s always been fighting” for the district.
For instance, Wynn cosponsored a bill in August 1995 that would have ensured payment of federal workers during government shutdowns. There were two partial shutdowns of the federal government late last year. Wynn’s measure died in a House committee.
Here’s where the candidates stand on other key issues:WELFARE REFORM
Wynn voted for the welfare reform bill signed by President Clinton in August, which shifts most of the control of aid from the federal government to the states.
But Kimble said he has a problem with a mandatory work provision in the law, and would have voted against the bill. The provision requires 25 percent of welfare recipients to be working by fiscal year 1997 and 50 percent by 2002.
The Republican challenger said he’s afraid federal government downsizing will force more people to go on welfare, and make it more difficult to meet the work requirement.
“This area is so dependent on government jobs. If there’s no work available, you can’t make people go to work,” he said.
Wynn agrees that more jobs must be created so people are able to work. Providing jobs and supporting small businesses is his top priority, he said.
“If small businesses expand, then you have jobs,” said Wynn, 46, of Largo.
The welfare system needs more work, Wynn said, but the law is a step in the right direction, particularly its emphasis on improving job skills. “It’s a hand up, rather than a handout,” he said.AFFIRMATIVE ACTION
Wynn said he would have opposed former Senate Majority Leader Robert Dole’s anti-affirmative action bill had it reached the House. The bill, which died in a Senate committee, called for ending gender and racial preferences when hiring government employees and choosing contractors.
“Now, all minorities, including women, only receive 3 percent of government contracts,” Wynn said. “The playing field is not level.”
He said the country’s long history of segregation has created a lack of opportunities for minorities.
Kimble did not take a position on the bill because he said he wants to consider the issue on a case-by-case basis. He sees the problem as the rich versus the poor and not black versus white.
“The regular black [guy] and white guy doesn’t get a fair shake anyhow. You have to help the middle class and the poor,” he said.MINIMUM WAGE
A bill signed by Clinton in August increased the $4.25 minimum wage to $4.75 on Oct. 1, and then raises it next September to $5.15.
Wynn voted for the bill, but said he thinks it should have gone further, to allow further increases as the cost of living rises.
Kimble agreed the increase isn’t enough, and also said he would have voted for the bill as first step.
“You can’t raise a family on $5 an hour,” Kimble said.
He proposes raising the wage to $10 an hour.
“It’s a fair way to help people in the poor and middle class,” he said. “Both parties cater to the wealthy, and the government has forgotten that it’s supposed to help the people.”BALANCED BUDGET AMENDMENT
Wynn is for balancing the federal budget but voted in 1995 against a proposed constitutional amendment, which would have forced Congress to balance the budget by the year 2002 or two years after the amendment was ratified by the states.
He voted against the bill because he said it did not leave enough wiggle room for emergency situations, such as war. A majority vote of Congress would have been required to waive the balanced budget requirement in times of war.
The budget should be fair and be able to protect federally funded programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and education programs, Wynn said.
Kimble said he would have voted against the 1995 bill because he said a balanced budget could end up drastically raising taxes for the middle class. But he wants to get rid of what he calls government “waste.”
“When you see 10 guys sitting around and one guy working, that’s wrong,” he said.PARTIAL-BIRTH ABORTION
Both candidates said they agree with Clinton’s veto on a bill passed by Congress that would have prevented an abortion procedure that takes place after the first 20 weeks of a pregnancy.
Both said the choice to have an abortion should be a woman’s.
“Being a man and that I can’t get pregnant, I don’t have the right to tell a woman what she can do,” said Kimble, who said he is pro-choice.
“The decision is between the mother, the doctor and God,” Wynn said.
“It’s unfair to call them murderers,” he said of the women who have “partial-birth” abortions.
Wynn supports a fixed-span replacement for the aging Woodrow Wilson Bridge that would rise 135 feet above the water, and cost $1.5 billion.
Kimble supports a 12-lane tunnel that would cost close to $4.5 billion. Commuters would likely be asked to pay a toll to help cover costs.
A 13-member coordinating committee, of which Wynn was a part, recently voted 7-6 in favor of rebuilding the Wilson Bridge as a 12-lane, 70-foot high drawbridge. The Federal Highway Administration is now reviewing the recommendation. -30-