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Career Army man to challenge Murtha

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Now is the time to help and encourage theis guy.

Career Army man to challenge Murtha
The Tribune-Democrat

After nearly three decades in the military, William T. Russells latest mission has brought him to Johnstown.

The career Army man, just two years short of retirement, has left the service and moved to the Flood City in order to mount a political campaign against veteran Democratic U.S. Rep. John Murtha.

As a Republican and first-time candidate facing a powerful congressman in the sprawling, Democrat-dominated 12th Congressional District, Russell faces a tough challenge.

But he is determined to press ahead and will formally announce his candidacy within weeks.

I recognize this is an uphill battle, Russell said in an interview last week at The Tribune-Democrat.

But its one that must be fought.

Murtha, who declined any comment on Russells candidacy when contacted through a spokesman last week, has served in the House since 1974.

The 75-year-old is known for bringing money and jobs  especially in the defense sector  to his district, and last year he became chairman of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.

But Murthas repeated calls for a military withdrawal from Iraq and his criticism of the Bush administration have spurred a backlash among conservatives.

Republican Diana Irey, a Washington County commissioner, tried to capitalize on that sentiment during her 2006 campaign against Murtha. But the congressman cruised to victory.

Russell, 45, is betting on a different result next year. He readily acknowledges that he moved to Johnstown from the Washington, D.C., area specifically so that he could run in the 12th District.

Murtha is a decorated Vietnam War veteran. But Russell also has extensive military credentials.

Born on an Air Force base in Newfoundland, Canada, Russells long Army and Army Reserve career includes duty in the Balkans and in both Iraq wars.

Russell and his wife, Kasia, were in the Pentagon when a hijacked jetliner crashed into the building on Sept. 11, 2001. They escaped unharmed.

While Murthas encounters with wounded soldiers have solidified his stance on Iraq, Russell said a similar encounter left him with the opposite impression: To withdraw from Iraq, he argues, would render the sacrifices of those soldiers pointless.

I think Mr. Murtha is just flat-out wrong, Russell said.

The Republican also cites, as Irey did, Murthas public accusation that U.S. Marines murdered innocent civilians in the Iraq town of Haditha in 2005.

The congressman, Russell contends, is playing right into the hands of this enemy.

On his Web site, Russell takes that line of thought a step further and attempts to raise the stakes for next years election.

In this war against Islamic radicalism, the political battle of the 2008 election in the Pennsylvania 12th Congressional District is a critical turning point, he said.

Russells platform is not limited to the Iraq issue.

He seeks to turn a long history of substantial economic clout against Murtha, arguing that the congressman is an extreme practitioner of cronyism who has not created long-term, sustainable jobs in this area.

As a small-business owner who operates an ATM company, Russell says he wants to help create a local economy that is more dependent on the free market  while also acknowledging that some jobs may be lost if governmental contracts disappear.

A lot of folks have gotten very, very dependent on this pork structure, Russell said.

Russell still has significant hurdles to clear before he can legitimately challenge Murtha. Political support is one issue.

It is not yet clear whether Russell will have any primary-election opposition from within his party. Irey last week would say only that she is focused on her current campaign for Washington County commissioner.

Russell has met with local Republican leaders, who are not wading into the Murtha race just yet.

Right now, were focused on the Nov. 6 election, said Ann Wilson, Cambria County Republican Committee executive director. Its too early to comment on the 2008 election.

Adequate fundraising also is a concern, though Russell said he hopes to buttress campaign cash with significant grassroots support.

Theres a lot of folks who might not have a whole lot of money to throw at a campaign but can donate some time and effort, he said. And Im getting a lot of those types of promises.

Here is his web page.

Russell has one thing going against him, Murtha brings home the bacon, as in PORK!! Murtha has essentially rebuilt Johnstown at the taxpayer's expense.

--- Quote ---MURTHA INC.
How Lawmaker Rebuilt
Hometown on Earmarks
Johnstown Gets Billions
With Power Broker's Aid;
FBI Questions a Contract
October 30, 2007; Page A1

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. -- If John Murtha were a businessman, he'd be the biggest employer in this town.

The powerful U.S. congressman has used his clout on Capitol Hill to create thousands of jobs and steer billions of dollars in federal spending to help his hometown in western Pennsylvania recover from devastating floods and the flight of its steelmakers.

More is on the way. In the massive 2008 military-spending bill now before Congress -- which could go to a House-Senate conference as soon as Thursday -- Mr. Murtha has steered more taxpayer funds to his congressional district than any other member. The Democratic lawmaker is chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, which will oversee more than $459 billion in military spending this year.

Johnstown's good fortune has come at the expense of taxpayers everywhere else. Defense contractors have found that if they open an office here and hire the right lobbyist, they can get lucrative, no-bid contracts. Over the past decade, Concurrent Technologies Corp., a defense-research firm that employs 800 here, got hundreds of millions of dollars thanks to Rep. Murtha despite poor reviews by Pentagon auditors. The National Drug Intelligence Center, with 300 workers, got $509 million, though the White House has tried for years to shut it down as wasteful and unnecessary. Another beneficiary: MTS Technologies, run by a man who got his start some 40 years ago shining shoes at Mr. Murtha's Johnstown Minute Car Wash.

A review by The Wall Street Journal of dozens of such contracts funded by Mr. Murtha's committee shows that many weren't sought by the military or federal agencies they were intended to benefit. Some were inefficient or mismanaged, according to interviews, public records and previously unpublished Pentagon audits. One Murtha-backed firm, ProLogic Inc., is under federal investigation for allegedly diverting public funds to develop commercial software, people close to the case say. The company denies wrongdoing and is in line to get millions of dollars more in the pending defense bill.

More Here

Joe Demko:
Anything Russell spends on his campaign might as well be heaped up and set on fire.  He has no chance against Murtha in that district.  I'm also not particularly fond of people who move into a district just to run for office.  Hillary Clinton did the same thing.  Pity she won.

I would hope that Russell wins, but I don't see it happening. Murtha is an embarrassment to the uniform he wore.


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