Loose ends: Barr weighs in on term limits, Paul; Immigration is topic du jour; and more poll results

07/07/2010 04:25 PM

Republican congressional candidate Andy Barr said he favors term limits — although he said it would require a constitutional amendment — as well as restrictions on how long committee chairmen can serve in that capacity.

Barr is running against Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler, who is seeking his fourth two-year term. Barr, a Lexington lawyer, said he supports capping a congressman’s tenure to six terms and a senator to two six-year terms. He said he believes the 1995 U.S. Supreme Court decision in U.S. Term Limits v. Thornton, a case originating in Arkansas, would require changing the U.S. constitution to implement such limits.

But Congress could — and should — cap the number of consecutive terms for congressional committee chairmen, Barr said. The Republican-led House implemented such restrictions after the 1994 elections, but the Democratic-controlled House lifted that rule last year.

He said those limits would be important particularly for “appropriations committee chairmen and subcommittee chairmen so that they serve only, say, two or three terms in that position.”

“I think one of the reasons we have so much profligate spending is that chairmen of committees obtain their chairmanship by virtue of doling out projects,” Barr said. “I think we would remove that perverse incentive if we had a shorter term for committee chairmen.”

Chairmanships also are decided upon seniority, and Kentucky’s longest-tenured congressman, Republican U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers of Somerset, would be slated to be an appropriations subcommittee chairman or possibly even the full committee’s chairman if Republicans win enough seats this fall to take over the U.S. House.

Overall, Barr’s call for term limits matches one of the major campaign platforms of Republican U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul.

“What I think Rand Paul has tapped into and what I have tapped into is the frustration relating to that unresponsiveness, the fact that Washington is more distant, remote and removed from people than ever before,” Barr said.

That’s not to say Barr agrees with everything Paul has said on the campaign trail. Specifically, Barr said he doesn’t share Paul’s reservations about government regulation of private businesses through legislation such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“I support the Civil Rights Act,” Barr said. “I would leave the Civil Rights Act undisturbed.”

Paul has appeared at sent out a message to his supporters urging them to attend a fund-raiser for Louisville congressional candidate Todd Lally but hasn’t done anything similar for Barr.

“There’s no joint fund-raisers, but certainly there will be occasion where we will appear at events together,” Barr said. “He’s running his own campaign, and I’m running my own. We happen to have compatible views on some issues. But they are separate campaigns.”

Barr and Paul, in fact, will be among the speakers Saturday at a statewide tea party movement rally at the state Capitol.

  • Immigration emerges as issue of the week in Senate race

On Tuesday, just as the U.S. Department of Justice filed its federal lawsuit to block Arizona’s new immigration law, Paul posted a letter on his campaign website outlining his specific position on immigration reform and criticizing Democrats, including President Barack Obama and Paul’s opponent Jack Conway.

Paul called for cutting off social services for illegal immigrants, “fix” the law legislatively or through a constitutional amendment to clarify citizenship by birthright and by establishing a border fence. (Although Paul’s campaign later clarified that it was not an underground electric fence.)

“You’ve heard the President talk, but he refuses to say or do anything of substance. And you’ve heard even less from Jack Conway on how he would solve this problem,” said Paul’s open letter to supporters. “I invite Jack to join the national discussion on this issue and say if he stands with the inaction, amnesty and welfare state for illegals like his national party.”

Conway’s campaign website doesn’t include an issues segment on immigration. Last month, he briefly talked about immigration with cn|2 Politics:

When contacted Tuesday about the new developments of the injunction, Conway’s campaign issued a statement echoing what Conway said in the answer above.

“A state-by-state patchwork system of immigration laws doesn’t work. That said, the federal government should step up enforcement of existing laws, and congress should pass measures that are tough and sensible,” the statement said.

Paul’s campaign manager, Jesse Benton, didn’t return a message seeking comment about the injunction.

  • Poll shows more Kentuckians unhappy with McConnell

The latest survey from Public Policy Polling says 48 percent of Kentuckians disapprove of McConnell’s job performance, compared to 34 percent who like the work he’s doing.

Here’s an excerpt:

McConnell’s overall job approval marks reflect feelings about his performance as leader as well as senator. For the most part, those who like how McConnell is doing in Washington want him to continue as the GOP’s leader in the next Congress, and those who do not do not. The answers for moderates and Democrats are almost exactly the same, but 56% of conservatives and 61% of Republicans wish him to continue at the head of their caucus. Men are split at 43%, but women are down, 34-54.

Barely more, 44%, think McConnell’s corralling of his party’s actions in the Senate is a positive for Kentucky than the 43% who say it is a negative, and opinions among the subgroups are polar opposites. 62% of conservatives and 68% of Republicans say they see the benefits of his title, but 57% of moderates and 58% of Democrats do not. There is a huge gender gap, with men breaking for McConnell, 50-35, and women against, 38-48.

- Ryan Alessi


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