Schaffer wants return trip to Washington
Bob Schaffer made a promise and kept it. Now he wants to go back to Washington.After six years representing northeastern Colorado in Congress, Schaffer declined to run for a fourth term in 2002, honoring a promise he’d made before he was first elected in 1996 to serve just three terms. After honoring that promise, though, Schaffer, a Fort Collins Republican, said he won’t make a similar pledge if elected to the Senate.Recent polls have Schaffer running neck and neck with Pete Coors for his party’s nomination for the U.S. Senate seat being given up by Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell. While Coors is backed by many of the state’s Republican leaders, Schaffer, known as a hard campaigner, is running with one goal in mind: “It’s a hard campaign and I’m going to win,” he said.If elected, here are Schaffer’s views on:Immigration: The nation’s current immigration system is “a mess,” Schaffer said. “I blame the federal government for its tacit approval of illegal entry into the country,” he said. Like the other candidates, Schaffer said he’s against a blanket amnesty for people now in the country illegally. “We need a well-regulated guest worker program, based on reasonable annual quotas based on realistic needs of business,” he said.”We need to send a message that there’s one way to enter the country – and that’s legally,” Schaffer said. “We haven’t been aggressive enough to get people here legally to embrace citizenship.”However, he added, there should be some accommodations made for those who have been in the illegally country for several years, especially families with children.
Senator, Colorado State Senate, 1987-1996Nominee for lieutenant governor, 1994.Organizations: Air Force AssociationCivil Air PatrolJayceesKnights of ColumbusNational Federation of Independent BusinessNational Republican Hispanic AssemblyRiders for JusticeCaucuses/Non-Legislative Committees: Policy CommitteeUkraine Caucus
“We can’t send them back and make them come in again,” he said.Whatever the ultimate answers, though, Schaffer said action needs to be taken, and soon. “The country’s got a big problem,” he said. “We need to undo decades of bad decisions.”Water: In Congress, Schaffer represented the northeast corner of the state, a mix of cities including Loveland, Fort Collins and Greeley as well as vast areas of irrigated agricultural land.”I’ve been a fierce defender of Colorado’s water in Congress and I will continue to do that,” he said.Schaffer said he’s a strong believer that the state’s established water law should take priority over recent federal needs.”If the federal government has a legitimate need, it needs to acquire water the way everyone else does – by buying it,” Schaffer said. The state has to expand its reservoirs and come up with a comprehensive plan, Schaffer said. The federal government can help by streamlining the permitting and approval processes required to get those reservoirs built.Citing the Animas-La Plata water project in southwestern Colorado, Schaffer said, “There’s no reason that should have taken 30 years to be approved.”We need to accommodate environmental objectives and maintain environmental integrity,” he said. “Environmental groups should have their day in court, but it should be one day, not multiple days.”Transportation: As with water, transportation planning should be done at a state level, with federal funding then funneled to projects.”I’ve been a friend of air transportation in Colorado,” Schaffer said. On transportation issues in general, “The state congressional delegation deserves credit for being unified on that,” he said.But, Schaffer said, federal funding depends on state planning.”When there’s a reasonable and effective plan, then I’ll fight hard for funding,” he said. “That takes building relationships across the aisle. I’ve done that in the House and I will do the same in the Senate.”