Yarmuth, Lally clash on issues -- except when it comes to BP

06/14/2010 07:21 AM

LOUISVILLE — The two congressional candidates in Louisville give voters a choice between a two-term Democratic congressman who has embraced his role as being part of government or a Republican challenger who is a new face to politics.

John Yarmuth, the Democratic incumbent, and Todd Lally, the Republican – who will be joined by independent Michael D. Hansen on the November election ballot – acknowledged that they offer the 3rd congressional district voters a philosophical choice.

“Every campaign is a choice as opposed to a referendum,” Yarmuth said. “I’m very confident that the 3rd District voters and voters all across the U.S. don’t want to return to the eight years of Bush and a Republican Congress’ policies.”

Lally, however, has built his campaign on offering a conservative alternative to Yarmuth and the Democrats who control Congress and the White House.

The two candidates don’t agree on much.

The one issue the two do agree on is that British Petroleum should be held liable for the ongoing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, although Yarmuth used a harsher tone toward BP.

“(BP) unleashed an attack on the U.S. physically and emotionally, whether they meant too or not,” Yarmuth said. “We need to respond appropriately, because they’re not. They’re already setting up roadblocks to get compensation to those affected on the coast.”
Yarmuth also criticized BP for paying out dividends while the spill was on going.

But Yarmuth defended President Barack Obama’s administration for its response to the spill.

“Very few Americans look at the spill and aren’t frustrated at the uncontrollable situation,” Yarmuth said. “But our response has been focused, determined. We’re doing everything we can do.”

Lally, a lieutenant colonel in the Kentucky National Guard, said he didn’t think the military could have contained the spill more effectively than BP. But Lally did say using the National Guard for cleanup would be “appropriate.”

“This was caused by a methane bubble coming out of the center of the earth,” Lally said. “There’s not way to legislate or regulate that. My question is why do we have to drill at 5,000 feet anyway? An emergency like this was bound to happen.”

Beyond that, Yarmuth and Lally don’t agree on much.

  • On the health care bill Congress passed in March:

Yarmuth praised the legislation, even if he said he “would have written the bill differently.”

“Health care was my top priority in 2006 and 2008,” Yarmuth said. “My assessment is that it was one of the most important issues for my constituents as well. It’s an important first step.”

Lally, meanwhile, told cn|2 Politics that he didn’t like the bill and strongly objected to the way it was rammed through Congress quickly.

But he said repealing the health care bill was unrealistic.

In the long term though, Lally said there might be some parts of the bill he could support.

  • On the Employee Free Choice Act, which is strongly backed by labor unions and, among other provisions, would allow workers to unionize if a majority sign cards rather than through secret ballots:

Yarmuth, who said he has always been in support of the act, said he was “willing to compromise on details, but not equity.”

“The act ought to create a procedure that does not give management inordinate power to stop organization of employees,” he said.

Lally sidestepped the question of whether he would support the legislation. He said he is generally supportive of unions but prefers the votes to remain on secret ballots.

Lally, who is part of the independent pilots union, said that a person’s “vote to join a union is your (own) vote.”

“I tell you, when we vote on things as union,” Lally said. “I cherish my vote as private.”

  • On the recent House vote to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell:

Yarmuth voted for its repeal, while Lally disagreed.

“This is not about gays in the military,” Lally said. “All they’re being asked to do is to leave their behavior quiet. So in that aspect, I would have voted no (to repeal). It’s been effective so far, with peace in the ranks and with high morale.

“So far, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell has been used as a way to get out of the military. People know it’s the quickest way to get out of the military,” Lally said. “At the same time, what I don’t want to happen (under the policy) is for people to be outed by a third party, which has happened recently.”

In defending his vote, Yarmuth said the military “needs every talented and able body” available.

“When all the top (military) leadership thinks it needs to be repealed,” Yarmuth said. “It’s a pretty easy decision.”

—Kenny Colston

About Pure Politics

Pure Politics airs Monday through Friday at 7 p.m. ET and again at 11:30 p.m. ET in all of cn|2's Kentucky markets. The program features political analysis and news, as well as interviews with officials, candidates, policy makers and political observers.


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