LONGMONT — A fiery Angie Paccione pointed to incumbent U.S. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave as all that’s wrong with federal government, during the Daily Times-Call election forum Thursday night.
“Do you think our country is on the right track, or do you think we need a new direction?” said Paccione, the Democrat who’s challenging Republican incumbent Musgrave in the 4th Congressional District, as her supporters in the crowd cheered.
Paccione then connected budget deficits, a growing national debt and even the congressional page scandal surrounding former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley to Musgrave and her fellow Republicans.
“Marilyn is listed as one of the 13 most corrupt members of Congress,” Paccione said, referring to a report by a left-leaning nonprofit organization called Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. CREW accused Musgrave of misusing her congressional office for campaign purposes.
“If you want to change Congress, you have to change the people you send to Congress,” Paccione said.
One Musgrave supporter at the forum said the allegations of corruption went too far.
“There wasn’t the ability for Marilyn to rebut that,” Longmont resident Jay Harbour said. Paccione followed Musgrave at the forum, during which each candidate had three minutes to speak.
Paccione supporter Patty Malfetti of Longmont said she didn’t mind the negative rhetoric.
She said she received an e-mail from the Paccione campaign to come to the event.
“I think she came across as being spunky, someone who I want to represent me,” Malfetti said.
Paccione was dealt some bad news this week. A Denver newspaper poll showed Paccione trailing Musgrave by 10 percent, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee cut half of her funding for television advertising.
Paccione’s energetic speech Thursday contrasted with the subdued and direct statement Musgrave made just minutes before.
Without mentioning her opponent, Musgrave highlighted her record in Congress.
She explained how she engineered a plan that allows small-business owners to band together to secure an insurance provider for their employees.
She also touched on illegal immigration.
“I’m very determined to help secure the borders of our country,” she added.
Musgrave said she doesn’t support amnesty for illegal immigrants already living in the United States.
“We need a sensible immigration system that reflects our laws,” she said.
Musgrave also touted her efforts to pass public policy that attempts to discourage the use of methamphetamines.
Eric Eidsness, who resurrected the Reform Party in Fort Collins to run for the 4th Congressional District seat, stated his position succinctly.
“I’m the candidate in the middle, literally and figuratively,” he said, getting a laugh from the crowd.
Eidsness’ message was strong on protecting private property and personal rights.
“In the last six years, I’ve seen our government invade our family decisions and personal policies,” he said.
The executive branch of the government has become too strong, he said, and Congress has failed to make it account for its failures.
Eidsness said dependence on foreign oil is the nation’s greatest threat. If elected, he said, he would work on a 15-year plan to wean the United States off foreign oil.
2nd Congressional District
Longshot candidates Joe Calhoun, from the Green Party, and Libertarian Norm Olsen ripped Washington leaders and Democrats at the election forum, while incumbent Democrat Mark Udall sent an aide to read a letter. Republican Rich Mancuso wasn’t represented.
“I think Washington has to be sent a message that it no longer can (have) a two-party corporate business agenda,” Calhoun said.
Calhoun said Congress is full of Bush Democrats and that he would get the United States out of Iraq.
Olsen said the nation’s politicians are passing a massive burden of debt on to their children, “because we have a bunch of career politicians in Washington, D.C., who are career politicians first and leaders second.”
Udall’s aide, Tim Mauck, read a letter, outlining the congressman’s accomplishments in office, including legislation to improve schools, conserve energy and create the James Peak Wilderness area in Colorado.
“The most important issue that America faces is national security,” Mauck read from the letter.
Douglas Crowl can be reached at 303-684-5253, or by e-mail at email@example.com.