Tuesday, May 31, 2005

DeLay could factor in race for Hyde seat

DeLay could factor in race for Hyde seat
April 22, 2005

BY SCOTT FORNEK Political Reporter

The ethical questions dogging House Majority Leader Tom DeLay boiled over into the west suburban 6th Congressional District race Thursday, as one Republican pledged support and another called on the Texas congressman to relinquish his leadership post.

"What I read in the paper, whether it's correct or not, just seems to be an embarrassment for the Republican Party," said former DuPage County Recorder of Deeds J.P. "Rick" Carney. "To stay in his leadership position seems arrogant to me."

But state Sen. Peter Roskam, who worked for DeLay 20 years ago, voiced support.

"Trotting out some of ... these old accusations that are two and three and four years old is a little bit tiresome," Roskam said. "I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt."

Roskam 'learned a lot' in 1998

The clash of opinions came as Roskam announced he is "formally exploring" jumping into the race to succeed Republican Rep. Henry Hyde. Carney is already a candidate. Other potential GOP hopefuls include state Sen. Carole Pankau of Roselle and former state Rep. Tom Johnson of West Chicago.

Hyde just announced his retirement Monday, but already the contest is producing sparks.

Carney portrayed himself as more moderate on issues such as abortion, gun control and gay rights than Roskam, who is positioning himself as the ideological heir of the 16-term conservative icon. Carney even took a poke at Roskam for running in the neighboring 13th Congressional District in 1998.

"If he loses this race, he'll run in the 14th [Congressional District], when [House Speaker J. Dennis] Hastert retires," Carney said, laughing.

In a conference call from Springfield, Roskam told reporters he did not expect his 1998 run to be a campaign issue because of his "long-standing ties" to the 6th Congressional District.

"It was a great race," Roskam said of the 1998 contest. "I learned a lot, and I think it actually places me at an advantage."

Roskam also dismissed questions about whether he was too conservative, opposing abortion and most gun control and gay rights measures.

"This is a district that has sent someone like Henry Hyde to the Congress for the past 31 years," Roskam said.

Roskam, 43, is a lawyer who lives in Wheaton. He worked as an aide to DeLay in 1985 and part of 1986, but said he has "not had any contact with him essentially for 20 years."

"I think everybody agrees that he's one of the most effective legislators in Washington, D.C.," Roskam said. "Knowing what I know now about what Tom DeLay's been accused of, my attitude would be to support him."

Carney: 'More moderate stance'

DeLay has been embarrassed by news reports raising questions about who finances his overseas travel and his ties to lobbyists, including Jack Abramoff, who is being investigated by a federal grand jury and a U.S. Senate committee.

Carney, 58, who also lives in Wheaton, quipped that Roskam might not want to advertise his past work for DeLay.

"He should keep that to himself," Carney joked.

But Carney said ideology will be a bigger campaign issue here than the Texan's troubles.

Carney said he is a fiscal conservative and proponent of smaller government and congressional term limits. But he said he supports some gun control measures and allowing gay couples to file joint income tax returns and share insurance coverage. He said abortion should remain legal.

"Do we want a congressman to serve the 6th District who is ultra-conservative, or are we going to go in the direction that all America is taking, a more moderate stance?" Carney asked. "I am for freedom. I'm for America being the home of the free."

Copyright © The Sun-Times Company

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