Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Will Teresa Bartels run in 8th CD ?

Revised at 9:00 pm on May 11, 2005.

Teresa Bartels [R- Mundelein], who noted she is quite busy with her consulting business, told me today she is leaning very seriously in the direction of running for the 8th Congressional District seat.

Is Congressman Mark Kirk [R- Highland Park, 10th CD] encouraging Teresa Bartels to run, as has been rumored [See here]. Bartels said she,“has talked with Mark and he is available to help anybody who will take the race very seriously.” But, as far as she knows, he is not favoring [at this time] any one candidate over another in the 8th CD Republican Primary.
Who is Teresa Bartels? When will she decide if she will run?

In a phone interview today with Teresa Bartels, she provided a good, initial glimpse into who she is and what kind of a candidate she might be in the 8th Cong. District race, if she decides to run—as has been rumored that she would. Bartels seemed refreshingly candid compared to various actual and potential politicians, in terms of answering questions regarding her potential candidacy and the issues.

My first impression of Bartels is that she is both articulate and thoughtful. In our conversation, to the extent she had not yet decided what her position is on an issue, she said so—reminding me of an old adage that some lawyers invoke from time to time: When all else fails, try honesty. In light of where Bartels is in the process and in light of the fact that we are about 18 months away from a general election in the 8th CD, admitting she does not yet have a position on an issue is not necessarily the worst thing she could say.

Bartels said a campaign in the 8th Cong. District will take “some organization and some money,” so she needs to decide soon, perhaps within the next three weeks. She said she thinks she has something to offer that will best represent the district.

Bartels and her husband operated a Manpower, Inc. franchise. She said she has been extremely committed to the “community,” so she said she knows what is of interest to the families of the 8th CD. She said she needs to weigh that against the effort and energy that a campaign would take.

She said she has held a number of positions in community organizations and even though she has not been a precinct captain or committeewoman, she said she has been involved behind the scenes politically. For example, Bartels said she chaired Barbara Richardson’s campaign for Lake County coroner a few years ago.

Bartels said she also chaired the Legislative Breakfast Club for former State Rep. Andrea Moore [R- Libertyville] who left the legislature in 2002 to accept an appointment by then Governor George Ryan as Assistant Director of the Department of Natural Resources. Moore, by the way, was also on Cong. Mark Kirk's Environment Advisory Board.

She is amused that various people commenting on the race try to paint her as moderate to liberal-- when she is not at all liberal, she said. “Am I reasonable and pragmatic?” Yes, she said. “Do I hold deep values and principles?” Yes, she answered her own question, again.

Fiscally conservative and socially moderate?

She described herself as fiscally conservative and socially moderate, a term that has been used by Cong. Mark Steven Kirk [R- Highland Park, 10th Cong. Dist.] and his predecessor, Cong. John Porter, to describe themselves.

Socially moderate? I asked what Bartels meant by that. First, she said she was not ready to talk about it, yet. However, Bartels went on to say socially moderate is more a definition of how you approach the issues. She believes one can hold conservative values and principles, and still work with people who come from different perspectives. That’s what the people of the 8th CD expect of their district representatives—they want Congress to solve problems.

Is that what they were getting from Cong. Phil Crane until he was removed from the 8th Cong. Dist. seat he held for 35 years-- until he lost last year to Democrat Melissa Bean, I asked?

Bartels said she couldn’t comment on Phil Crane, but that obviously in the last election people were looking for some kind of change. However, she said the change they got might not have been what they were looking for.

What does she mean by that, I asked. “It is a Republican district, we need to provide options for people, Bartels said.” Do you mean you need to provide an alternative to Melissa Bean, I asked. Bartels said yes.

Teresa Bartels emphasized that she has been in “this community [the 8th CD] for 27 years, active in all activities from education to health and human services to business.” She said she knows how to create jobs; she has a vision of what “they need in education and the training they need to match people to the jobs that the economy is creating.” Bartels said, “those are things that are important to families.” She also indicated that transportation is a huge problem for many families in the area-- commute times are taking away from the quality of family life.

She has experience and a breadth of knowledge of community that better represents the district [than Cong. Bean?], Bartels said.

Tax Cuts and Personal Retirement Accounts:

I asked if Bartels would have supported the Bush Tax Cuts that passed Congress in ‘01 and ’03. Bartels said she is not that far along in this process; she is reading and learning about the issues, but she is not ready to talk about that issue yet.

What does she think about President Bush’s proposed personal retirement accounts for social security. Bartels said, “we definitely need to examine social security-- and personal retirement accounts should be a part of whatever solutions are proposed.”

Iraq, WMD and Democracy:

Would she have supported the Fall, 2002 vote to authorize the President to take military action in Iraq? Yes, Bartels said.

In light of our discovery of the absence of WMD, would that factor have affected her decision about going into Iraq- if she knew there were no WMD at that time of the 2002 vote? Teresa Bartels said we need to always look at and exhaust all options before going to War. However, probably there was a strategic reason to be there, she said-- and now that we are there, we have a responsibility to create a free society that offers a beacon of democracy in that area. Bartels said that we need to bring our soldiers home [when that would be was not stated] but we need to continue to help Iraq build a democratic society there.

I said to Bartels, in terms of the decision to go into Iraq, some people focus only on WMD as to why this country went in, other say it still might have been justified based on humanitarian or “build a model democracy in the midst of the Middle East” reasons. What does she think? Bartels said there are sometimes strategic reasons for military efforts that we may not be entirely cognizant of and since she wasn’t in Congress at the time, it is difficult in hindsight to judge that.

Gays, Guns, Abortion and Stem Cell Research:

Is Bartels pro life? She said the rhetoric on abortion in last thirty years has been counter productive. She emphasized to me that she has a solid “life” ethic, but our efforts are better spent making “The choice of abortion,” unnecessary. But, she said that she believes life is sacred and needs to be protected.

Should abortion be illegal, I asked. Bartels said yes, except for the life of the mother. But no rape or incest exception, I asked. Bartels said she struggles with that the most and yet even in cases of rape or incest, there is a new life, she said. Bartels said we need to eliminate rape and incest, so that’s why she works with La Casa-- the Lake County Council Against Sexual Assault.

But, Bartels emphasized again we still need to protect that life [created from a rape or incest] —so it certainly sounds to me as if Bartels’ position is what she first stated, she would like abortion to be illegal except when it is used to protect the life of the mother.

I asked Bartels what she thought of gay rights, which I prefaced by saying that issue seems to be, to a large extent, a state issue, but then I said the same sex marriage question certainly has come up federally and what did she think of that. Bartels said that is a state issue. When I asked if same sex marriage should be banned federally, Bartels said she was not ready to answer that.

Does she favor embryonic stem cell research? Bartels said there was no evidence that it produces results and plenty of evidence that regular [adult] stem cell research will do just as well.

Is she pro gun control? Bartels said she is still formulating her views on this. She noted that her brothers are all hunters and people ought to be able to do that [hunt]. The complexity, she said, is with semi-automatic weapons and guns that are destructive, she said. Bartels said some say “people, not guns, are the problem.” She said she doesn’t know if controlling guns helps control crime; her interest is in [providing for] safe and healthy communities.

Would Bartels push for the Congressional assault weapon ban [which expired in 2004] to be brought back. She doesn’t know if that would be a priority for her, she said. If it came up as proposed legislation, how would she vote? She doesn’t know how she would vote on it, she said. Bartels said she has to listen to the arguments on this issue; she is open to listening to both sides.

When I reminded her that she described herself as socially moderate and yet her views on abortion [and guns] did not sound necessarily within what people call “moderate,” Teresa Bartels said, “Well, nobody likes abortion, so the focus is on how best to protect life-- and that is to change the way the culture operates; we need a basic culture that supports ‘the sanctity of life.’”
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