Voters got a chance to learn a little about the lesser-known candidates for Delaware’s lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives at a forum in Dover Oct. 20.


Voters got a chance to learn a little about the lesser-known candidates for Delaware’s lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives at a forum in Dover Oct. 20.

Headline-grabbing Senate hopefuls Christine O’Donnell and Chris Coons declined their invitations to a candidates’ night sponsored by the local chapter of the League of Women Voters and the American Association of University Women, leaving the event wide open for Republican House challenger Glen Urquhart and three of his opponents.

Joining Urquhart were Libertarian Brent Wangen, Independent Party of Delaware nominee Earl Lofland and Blue Enigma Party candidate Jeffrey Brown. Democrat John Carney also chose not to attend.

Here are their comments on a few of the hottest topics of this election.

On the health care reform bill passed earlier this year:

Wangen argued that, according to a strict interpretation of the Constitution, the federal government doesn’t have the power to mandate health care or health insurance coverage. The states, Wangen said, should handle health care reform in whatever ways they see fit.

“I completely do not support the federal government providing health care, without a constitutional amendment,” he said. “Yes, you repeal Obamacare and you don’t replace it with anything.”

Lofland also offered a narrow interpretation of the Constitution. He said the 10th Amendment, which states that all powers not granted to the federal government are granted to the states or to citizens, makes it clear that health care is a local issue.

“We have no duty to have Obamacare; it does not fall within our constitutional rights,” he said. “Anytime the federal government puts its hands on something, it usually messes it up.”

Brown said he wants more information about what’s in the health care bill stated in layman’s terms before anyone talks about repealing the legislation.

“I have a hard time understanding the universal health care bill. They have to make sense of the bill for the common man, for me.”

Uruquhart hammered House Democrats, especially Speaker Nancy Pelosi, for their handling of the bill. He said the bill creates too much bureaucracy, but never actually called for it to be repealed.

“Nancy Pelosi told us we had to pass the bill before we read the bill,” he said. “This isn’t health care, it’s health control.”

On education and federal mandates like Race to the Top

Brown called for the firing of administrators and said teachers should drive education policy. States, he said, could make better use of tax dollars if they cut administrative fat.

“Let’s get the teachers involved, get rid of some of the administrators and the teachers back in control,” he said. “Consolidate Delaware’s school districts, if you have to.”

Urquhart jumped on wasteful spending in the federal and state departments of education. He also advocated for charter schools as a way for the free market to drive competition for good educational institutions.

“We have too much waste. We need to cut out those layers in the Department of Education,” he said. “Charter schools are a great value; we need to invest in charter schools.”

Lofland said federal education policy initiatives like Race to the Top and the Bush administration’s No Child Left Behind, and the regulation they bring with them, are strangling local schools.

“Race to the Top? It’s race to the flop,” he said. “Get rid of the Department of Education on the federal level and bring it back to the state level.”

Wangen’s reading of the Constitution also lead him to conclude that abolishing the Department of Education is the first step to bolstering funding for schools at a local level.

“[Education policy] is not a power granted to the federal government by the Constitution,” he said. “Why do we have to send our money to Washington to have them send it back?”

On global warming, federal energy policy and green technology

Lofland said the focus needs to be on infrastructure and transportation projects that can put people to work and ease pollution from cars. He suggested bringing a Walt Disney World-style monorail to the Delmarva, as well as drilling for oil offshore and on federal lands.

“We need to start focusing on our independence in natural resources,” he said.

Wangen asserted that he’s not convinced mankind has had a significant impact on Earth’s climate. He said when the global supply of oil dries up, it will be the laws of supply and demand that will bring everyone alternative energy technology, but the government shouldn’t force global warming on nonbelievers.

“It needs to be handled by the free market,” he said. “Those people that don’t believe in [global warming] shouldn’t have their tax dollars forcibly taken.”

Urquhart said renewable power sources, like wind, aren’t the silver bullet, since technology to store energy hasn’t caught up. He also said the government should push industry to the next level in green technology and alternative energy by creating incentives, not more regulation.

“The real solution is to create an energy storage system so we can use renewable energy,” he said. “I propose a major national [research] prize.”

Brown advocated for more government funding of research into renewable energy, which would have the side effect of bolstering employment.

“We push for wind farms, we push for solar power. If you invest in these industries, you’re going to create 21st Century jobs.”

Email Doug Denison at doug.denison@doverpost.com