Republican Rocky Chávez stole the stage in Monday’s U.S. Senate radio forum by announcing he was dropping out and running for reelection to the state Assembly.
Then he left.
“Not something we expected, I guess,” KOGO-AM’s Cliff Albert said.
“No. Not at all,” the host-moderator, Carl DeMaio, added.
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But the show went on, with GOP candidates Duf Sundheim and Tom Del Beccaro sharing their views on a range of topics – from taxes to immigration to cutting funding for Planned Parenthood. The discussion, frank and cordial, with little crosstalk (DeMaio, himself a veteran debater, kept things moving briskly). Here’s a rundown of where the candidates stand. Their answers are summarized below for clarity and space.
DeMaio: What is your plan to deal with the impacts of illegal immigration? Particularly, how would you secure the border?
Sundheim: Wants to use modern technology to its full advantage. Believes we need drones, sensors and big data to help Border Patrol agents target the places where people are coming across the border.
Del Beccaro: Opposes “comprehensive” approaches. Wants GOP to concentrate on the national security aspect of immigration beginning with visa reforms. Up to half of the 11-1/2 million unauthorized people who are here illegally have overstayed their visas. Wants a bill stipulating they must leave in 90 days.
Q: Would you support a bill providing a path to legal citizenship or legal status?
Sundheim: Would vote for a pathway to legal status. Needs to be strict, and strictly enforced. Eligible people would apply for status and pay a fine. It would exempt criminals and unemployed people. It also would provide a 10-year probationary period before they could attain permanent legal status.
Del Beccaro: We need to first find people who have overstayed their visas and give them 90 days to leave. Those who stay would be fined and then deported.
Q: Do you believe we should end the Syrian refugee visa program?
Sundheim: We should stop it until we have control of who is coming into the country.
Del Beccaro: We need to pause until we “get our act together.”
Q: How would you take on ISIS?
Del Beccaro: ISIS is Islamic terrorism. We have to be “more defined” when we send people into battle. But we cannot be everywhere in the world at once. Unless a country is exporting its terror we should not go into it militarily. With ISIS we need to support our allies in the region.
Sundheim: There is no substitute for American leadership. Make sure we have a very clear mission and objective before we go in. Then look to Harry Truman and what he did with Arthur Vandenberg for guidance concerning economic, political and military policy.
Q: Are we at war with radicalized Islam?
Del Beccaro: Yes. But we need to define the precise enemy and offer a defined response.
Q: Do you support combat ground troops to fight ISIS?
Del Beccaro: Yes. But first you dry up their banking; launch air attacks on their oil fields and also support allies. As it becomes clearer what mission is, additional troops will probably be necessary and we should not be afraid to use them.
Sundheim: While you must leave all options on the table, cautions against large numbers of troops because there isn’t now a clear strategy. Open to troops, but not with Obama as leader.
Q: Should we repeal Obamacare, and what to replace it with?
Del Beccaro: Must not repeal it until we have a new plan. Proposing a flat tax and the ability to take ones health insurance across state lines. Also, people should be able to take their plans from job to job.
Sundheim: Repeal the healthcare overhaul and replace it with a modernized system.
Q: Medicare for illegal immigrant children. Is it proper?
Sundheim: You have to deal with it in bigger context. It’s a state problem. Would not revoke it at this time. (Also, see answer to what to do with immigrants here).
Del Beccaro: Opposes it. There are too many magnet benefits in the U.S. State services like schools, colleges and hospitals are already strained.
Q: What would you do to fix Veterans Affairs?
Del Beccaro: Give veterans vouchers to seek care at private hospitals. Require firing of people in current administration.
Sundheim: Generally agrees with Del Beccaro.
Q: Tell us about your philosophy on tax reform?
Del Beccaro: Proponent of flat tax for three decades. Has a plan supported by many, including most recently Steve Forbes. Would reduce the IRS and with it class warfare.
Sundheim: Lower marginal rates; dramatically simplify the process. IRS has too much power. Flat tax would “devastate” the middle class because it removes the tiered system needed to provide enough revenue to pay for needed services.
Q: Do you support the bullet train (high-speed rail)?
Sundheim: “Absolutely not.” Too many people here are struggling to get basics like clean water. We need more water projects.
Del Beccaro: Against. A luxury way beyond our need. Airlines work just fine. Gov. Jerry Brown should work on water delivery systems.
Q: Should Congress eliminate Planned Parenthood funding?
Del Beccaro: Would vote to defund the organization. Most of what it does is abortion-related or donating money to candidates and causes.
Sundheim: Agree. It’s a subsidiary of the Democratic Party. But would need to protect healthcare for women in the interim.
Q: Do you support defunding sanctuary cities?
Sundheim: Yes. Need comprehensive immigration reform.
Del Beccaro: Yes. Too many loopholes now. But comprehensive immigration bills are “pathway to gridlock.”
Q: Should we raise the federal gas tax to pay for roads?
Sundheim: No. We pay enough taxes for roads and only a fraction actually goes to fixing roads. But not for signing a pledge opposing all tax increases.
Del Beccaro: No. Wouldn’t support any new taxes and has signed a no-tax pledge.