Labor Day typically means the end to summer. Kids are beginning to go back to school, the weather begins to change and network television brings back its shows. However, in an election year, Labor Day also marks the beginning of the final stretch of campaigning for politicians.
This year, it is the midterm elections, a time when every representative in the House is up for re-election and roughly one-third of the Senate is as well.
In California’s 27th district, which includes Cal State Northridge, Democrat incumbent Brad Sherman is running for re-election for the third time against Republican newcomer Peter Hankwitz.
Hankwitz, who was a representative in the entertainment industry for 18 years, is now running for election as the only openly gay Republican.
“Running a campaign is fantastic and fun,” Hankwitz said. “Being a rep in politics was not a great leap from being a rep in entertainment.”
Being a newcomer to politics, Hankwitz has tried to get his name out in public, partly by challenging Sherman to numerous debates. The only debate between the two is scheduled for October.
One of the major differences between the two candidates was a vote last summer that would have placed a timetable for U.S. troops to be taken out of Iraq.
“(The resolution) would have praised the troops, but it also would have praised the Bush administration, which is why I voted present on it,” Sherman said. “I was not going to get caught in the trap.”
“Sherman let down the military and his district by voting present,” Hankwitz said. “We need compromise on Iraq.” Hankwitz also said he is against an arbitrary timeline.
Hankwitz said he hates war, however, and he hates the idea that the United States is fighting a war in Iraq and Afghanistan, but said he believes we as a country have to support the troops.
There has been some talk in the media that Democrats may take back either control of the House or the Senate or possibly both. Sherman said he respects the opinions of experts who are saying this and believes it could happen.
Sherman also said he believes Congress will eventually become so even and divided that neither party will get anything passed without bipartisanship.
One area that Hankwitz has been criticizing Sherman on has been immigration. Hankwitz believes Sherman has ignored the immigration debate, especially the problem with illegal immigration.
Sherman said we as a country need to give up the idea that we are going to deport 12 million people. He said we won’t and shouldn’t.
“Our immigration party should allow certain people in,” Sherman said. “Everyone with a job and a card should be legal.”
Being gay and a Republican is rare, but Hankwitz believes that will not cost him votes in November. He said it is not hard to connect with real conservative Republicans, or the “right wing.”
Hankwitz describes himself as a fiscal conservative and wants the federal government out of people’s everyday lives, which he said he believes allows him to connect with conservative voters.
Hankwitz said he is against changing or adding an amendment to the constitution that would ban gay marriage and said he is not sure President George W. Bush feels that way.
The environment is also an issue that has been in the news, especially with all the talk about global warming. Sherman said Democrats are the party to protect the environment. Sherman also said he hopes to lure young voters with the price of college tuition going up in California.
“Arnold thinks tuition is too low,” Sherman said. “If that does not get young people to vote, I do not know what will.”
The election will be held Nov. 7.