U.S. House competitors agree GOP has lost way
Richard Noah Hough doesn't sound like your typical Republican.
He's against the war in Iraq.* He does not support the No Child Left Behind Act. He refers to President Bush's environmental and energy policies as "nonsense."
Still, the former soldier, now an Army reservist working as a defense industry consultant, considers himself a "traditional" Reagan-era Republican, which is why he has taken on the formidable task of challenging incumbent U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie for his seat in Congress.
"I wanted to bring back my party to what it believed in," said Hough (pronounced huff), citing fiscal discipline as a top priority. "I'm very upset at the Republican Party and I don't think the Democrats have the answers either -- I think they're Democrats first and playing politics with the Republicans.
"I'm running because I actually thought I could go over there and smack some people around and say, 'Start acting like Republicans.'"
Voters will decide Nov. 7 whether to give him that opportunity, but Hough faces a tall order in trying to unseat Abercrombie, who has held the 1st Congressional District seat representing urban Honolulu continuously since 1990.
Hough admits as much, talking about post-election plans in terms of "when" he loses, rather than "if."
"You've got to get your message out to people, and to get your message out you need money," said Hough, who has spent about $14,000 of his own money on his campaign, with only $832 still available as of the Sept. 3 reporting deadline. "I was running a very effective campaign for a while there, it's just the money ran out.
"I also tell people I'm in my first year of a three-year campaign -- you never know what the future's going to hold."
Hough faces the added challenge of running in a race that is getting little attention. Voters, the media and the parties themselves have placed more focus on the race in the 2nd Congressional District, where former Democratic Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono faces Republican state Sen. Bob Hogue to represent rural Oahu and the neighbor islands in the U.S. House.
That race was boosted by a primary that featured 10 Democrats vying for the nomination against one of two high-profile Republicans.
Despite what most would consider a comfortable advantage in his own race, Abercrombie is as feisty as ever, particularly as he continues to assail the Bush administration and its handling of the war in Iraq.
"To come in and virtually from Day One be able to take apart word by word, piece by piece, day by day, everything that's been done -- all of it's wrong," Abercrombie said. "I've tried to find some virtue in any of it, and you can't find it.
"If it's possible to do everything wrong, every day, it's been done."
The first step toward fixing that, Abercrombie says, is electing a Democratic Congress, although he remains skeptical that will happen this year.
That could change, he adds, if violence continues to escalate and voters "in a spasm of reaction" vote against GOP incumbents who support Bush. If that happens, Abercrombie, a member of the Committee on Armed Services and the ranking Democrat on the Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee, would be in line to become chairman.
"If all the stars line up and that happens, it's actually going to be good for the country, he said, noting that hearings likely would be conducted on the country's involvement in Iraq. "The president will not be able to run roughshod over anybody anymore.
"There's going to be an honest discussion -- at least as far as this potential chairman is concerned -- because that's what I intend to do."
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
A story on page A17 Sunday reported that Republican U.S. House candidate Richard Noah Hough is against the war in Iraq.
Hough said he does not oppose the war in Iraq, but that he was opposed to going to war on the premise of finding weapons of mass destruction. Hough said he believed that the premise was faulty because if the weapons were not found, or were found in small quantities, enemies would use it as a reason to continue and develop an insurgency.