Challenger: Udall weak on borders, education |

Challenger: Udall weak on borders, education

NWS Rich Mancuso SM 3-23

VAIL – Rich Mancuso knows he’s got an uphill battle in his congressional race against incumbent Democrat Mark Udall. But the Evergreen Republican said Udall is weak on education, immigration and energy policy, and he thinks he can do a better job representing Colorado’s second congressional district in Washington.”I believe our government is going down the wrong path,” Mancuso said. “The federal government is too big, too strong. It’s a violation of our own constitution.”A high school history teacher with no previous experience in office, Mancuso said protecting the country’s borders is one of his greatest concerns. He proposes a plan to offset the cost of apprehending, detaining and deporting illegal immigrants by deducting those costs from federal foreign aid.”If all of the sudden we’re giving Mexico $500 million a year instead of $1 billion, I guarantee you they’ll secure the borders,” he said.Mancuso said Udall is “weak” on immigration but didn’t offer details. He also said increasing the number of work visas isn’t a viable solution, since it hasn’t worked in Europe.

On education, Mancuso said the $89 billion annual budget of the U.S. Department of Education is too much, and that the money should be directed more at schools and teachers rather than in a huge federal bureaucracy.”I think it’s terrible,” he said. “As we go more toward a centralized government, we take it further away from the people. Education is the job of the states, so let’s keep the money in states.”Mancuso said he still had “homework” to do on hot-button issues for the mountain areas like federal land sales and pine beetles. On water, he said he supports more reservoir construction and taking another look at the interstate water compacts that divert Colorado water downstream to Arizona and California.”It’s not fair, it’s not equitable,” Mancuso said. “I think its antiquated legislation, and something has to be done about it.”On energy, Mancuso said he supports a “Manhattan Project”-style approach to gain independence from foreign oil in six years. Turning to the private sector to arrive at creative solutions, he said, is preferable to relying on the federal government to lead the way.Udall, he said, hasn’t done much on energy.

“He’s had eight years,” Mancuso said. “He should have taken the lead, especially representing an area like Boulder.”In running, Mancuso said he’s following a family tradition of service.”It’s a desire to make your community a better place,” he said. “It’s taught in my family that you always have to give back.”But it may be a long road to election day for Mancuso. According to well-read state politics Web site, he’s a long shot at best:”Mancuso has zero chance of knocking off Udall, and there may still be another Republican candidate – state Sen. Shawn Mitchell perhaps – that Republicans could approach in hopes that they could bleed Udall’s campaign coffers a little in advance of his 2008 U.S. Senate run.”

Alex Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14625, or Daily, Vail, Colorado

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