Sep 182005
Authors: Ben Bleckley

Friday, 53rd district Colorado Representative Angie Paccione announced her candidacy for the fourth district Congressional seat in the House of Representatives.

Thank goodness.

For the last three years, Republican Marilyn Musgrave has represented the 4th District, which spans from the northern Front Range to the southeastern state border. The district has over 160,000 registered republicans and 100,000 registered democrats. More than 130,000 voters are unaffiliated.

Paccione spent the last three months exploring the possibility of entering the race against Musgrave.

"We took a real hard look at the viability of mounting a campaign against a two term incumbent," Paccione said. "We decided that the time was right and (I) was a candidate who could beat her."

I've never liked Marilyn Musgrave as a representative. The thing that really turned me away was when she introduced her federal marriage amendment, suggesting that the people of Colorado's 4th District were more concerned with defining marriage between a man and a woman than figuring out how to pay for school or find a job during the recession.

I've always been a fan of Angie Paccione. Her record at the Colorado General Assembly displays just how concerned she is with the issues of students. She is responsible for the safe-haven law that protects intoxicated students trying to get medical assistance and for crucial adjustments to the College Opportunity Fund.

Though not wrongly, perhaps I'm a little biased. But Paccione has some convincing arguments when it comes to her feelings concerning Musgrave's record.

"We were going to give a $1,500 bonus to active duty officers and (Musgrave) voted against it," Paccione said. "We were going to offer health insurance to reservists and she voted against doing that."

"On one hand she supports the troops, but she voted for cuts of $1.5 billion over two years for veteran's benefits," she said.

Paccione also takes issue with Musgrave's support for working families.

"Marilyn has voted six times not to extend the child tax credit for low income families who are trying to find ways to provide child care for their children while going to work themselves," she said. "She has voted against extending assistance to 2 million workers, and this was right after the Sept. 11 attacks."

Perhaps the starkest contrast between these two candidates is that Paccione is concerned primarily with her consistuency. She won the 53rd District seat last year with a 59 percent majority over her republican challenger in a district that is 26 percent democrat.

"I think what that demonstrates is that the people of House District 53 saw me as a person focused on what's right, not who's right," Paccione said.

Musgrave, on the other hand, has voted with Texas representative Tom Delay 94 percent of the time. She seems to side with party lines more than with her constituents.

Another thing I like about Representative Paccione – she thinks it is important to talk to students about issues. She was quick to answer any of my questions. In 2002, Representative Musgrave refused to speak with a Collegian reporter, citing that she doesn't talk to "fake newspapers."

There are those on campus who will disagree with me because they feel a federal marriage amendment is more important than education funding; that paying minimum wage to construction workers in New Orleans will help close the socioeconomic rift; and that troops in Iraq should not have increased pay or benefits even though they are fighting a largely unknown enemy on the other side of the globe. I think come November next year, however, there will be plenty of registered republicans voting for a democrat contender who will take the real voice of the 4th District to Washington.

Marilyn Musgrave's office was contacted for comment but did not return our calls in time. There were no related press releases on her website.

Ben Bleckley is a senior English major. His column runs every Monday.

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