September 08, 2005
Shane Sklar kicks off his campaign

More Congressional action: Shane Sklar, the Democratic candidate running in CD14, formally kicked off his campaign in Victoria.

Victoria-born Shane Sklar kicked off his campaign for the Congressional seat now held by Ron Paul by calling for a review of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in light of that bureau's response after Hurricane Katrina.

"The federal government was ill prepared for this disaster, even though we knew it would occur," said Sklar, speaking before a crowd of about 45 gathered Wednesday morning in DeLeon Plaza in downtown Victoria. "This is simply inexcusable."

A review of FEMA's disaster-response capabilities is important, said Sklar, because the 14th Congressional District - which stretches across 10 counties from the Galveston area to Aransas County south of Victoria and is one of the largest coastal congressional districts in U.S. - could be the next area to be hit by a Katrina.

He said a review should look into "the details of what didn't happen after this natural disaster occurred. I thought with the terrorism preparations that we've had in our country, there might have been a little better plans set in place and response time. We could have done a better job."

The 29-year-old Democrat, former executive director of the Independent Cattlemen's Association of Texas, said the 14th District's congressman must take the lead in a review of FEMA to ensure that response plans will be developed that are simple and effective.

"I think it's very important for the congressman from this area to lead an effort like that. The lives of my family and your family are literally at stake," said Sklar, a fourth-generation rancher who grew up in Edna and was student body president at Victoria College. "We cannot afford to get caught unprepared again."

Sklar intimated that Ron Paul, the incumbent Republican from Surfside Beach in Brazoria County, isn't the man for that job.

He said he respects Paul for standing up for philosophical principles. "But after eight terms in Congress, he has had plenty of chances to make his point."

Sklar said the district needs more than just a congressman who wants to make a philosophical point.

"This isn't a job for someone who simply sits back and lets things happen. We need a congressman who will make a difference. That's why I would want to take a lead in this."

I'm highlighting so much of the story because I think the points that Sklar is raising will be difficult ones for Ron Paul to answer. The House just voted 410-11 to approve a $51.8 billion emergency aid package for Katrina victims. Was Paul one of those 11? (I'll have to look.) If so, will his constituents agree that his staunch libertarian principles outweigh helping people who desperately need it? If not, is he making an exception here or has he always supported this sort of aid package before? Given that CD14 includes a lot of vulnerable Texas coastline, including Galveston Island, what kind of proactive steps does Paul support the government taking to protect them from a future Katrina?

It may well be that Paul has consistent answers, ones which his constituents will approve, for all these questions. But I suspect it's more than just good politics for Shane Sklar to ask them.

UPDATE: Ask and ye shall be answered: Paul was indeed one of the eleven No votes. Interestingly enough, so was Smokey Joe Barton. Calling David Harris!

Posted by Charles Kuffner on September 08, 2005 to Election 2006 | TrackBack

interesting. I had thought Sklar was going to run against McCaul...? Change his mind you think...? Maybe the story just got mixed up by the time it got to me...

Posted by: anthony gutierrez on September 8, 2005 5:33 PM

Far as I know, it was always CD14. I heard about his candidacy several months ago. So my guess is a mixup.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on September 8, 2005 5:38 PM

Posted by: Rob Booth on September 8, 2005 6:21 PM

Like I said, I don't doubt that he's got his reasons. The question is whether or not the voters will accept them.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on September 8, 2005 7:41 PM

Paul is also a co-sponsor of the Gas Tax Relief Act, the bill introduced in Congress that will enact a temporary moratorium on the fed gas tax at the pump, thus dropping gas prices immediately by almost 20 cents a gallon.

Posted by: ttyler5 on September 9, 2005 12:09 AM

He said he respects Paul for standing up for philosophical principles. "But after eight terms in Congress, he has had plenty of chances to make his point."

Sklar said the district needs more than just a congressman who wants to make a philosophical point.

I couldn't disagree with Paul more on Katrina disaster relief, but realistically, he knew the bill was going to pass. CD 14 voters are unlikely to kick him out on this issue alone.

And after all, there are other issues to consider. For an obvious example, where does Sklar stand on Iraq? I'd have a hard time supporting a pro-war Democrat against one of the few anti-war Republicans in Congress.

As for a gas tax moratorium, I have mixed emotions. My first reaction is that it's a bad idea, but I'd rather see Federal gas tax revenues reduced than see it going to "bridges to nowhere" in Alaska.

The best solution would be to keep the gas tax, but use it for its intended purpose and for emergencies like Katrina, rather than for pork-barrel projects to appease prominent Republicans like Sen. Ted Stevens (or Democrats, for that matter). But that's not going to happen in this Congress.

Posted by: Mathwiz on September 9, 2005 11:29 AM