Introduction to the House of Representatives Race in PA-06

For members of the sixth congressional district, Jim Gerlach and Lois
Murphy have been familiar names since the 2004 congressional election.
In the 2004 election, freshman Republican Gerlach fought off his
Democratic competitor Murphy with a 51% to 49% victory. Though just
falling short of success in 2004, Lois Murphy is back to try and take
the Congressional seat from incumbent Gerlach in one of the closest and
most anticipated races of the year.

The Sixth Congressional district comprises communities in Lehigh,
Berks, Montgomery, and Chester counties. When state legislators created
the sixth district in 2002, it was said to be a safe Republican seat,
but instead turned into one of the true swing seats in the United
States. Both Jim Gerlach and Lois Murphy are campaigning feverishly to
try and secure a seat for themselves in congress. A lot of negative
campaigning has become the main strategy for both candidates to appeal
to the people. Both Murphy and Gerlach have taken key issues like the
war in Iraq and abortion to highlight how morally wrong their opponent
is for the people of Pennsylvania. Lois Murphy claims that Jim Gerlach
is taking America in the wrong direction by supporting the war on
terror in Iraq. Gerlach has countered Murphy by saying she has the
wrong morals for America. He has drawn attention to Murphy’s past
employment history at NARAL where she defended reproductive rights of
women. Murphy’s employment at NARAL has become one of the main focuses
of Gerlach’s campaign against Murphy. Despite accusations of defective
morals, Gerlach and Murphy have made the war in Iraq and keeping
Americans safe from terrorism one of the largest and main concerns with
regard to their campaigns.

One of the main issues that have been heavily discussed by both
candidates is the war in Iraq. Jim Gerlach supports the war on terror.
He believes that America must take an active approach in stopping
terrorists on their turf before they strike America again. Gerlach
also believes that American troops must remain in Iraq until a peaceful
transition toward democracy has been accomplished. Gerlach does not
believe that American soldiers should be in Iraq longer than necessary.
Gerlach has taken a lot of angst from many Democrats for having close
ties with President Bush who also supports the war in Iraq. Gerlach
has responded to them with, “When I disagree with President Bush, I
tell him so.”

On July 21, 2005, the House voted to pass the USA Patriot and
Terrorism Prevention Reauthorization Act, which would extend and modify
authorities needed to combat terrorism. Jim Gerlach voted yes. On
December 19, 2005, the House passed the Department of Defense
appropriations bill for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2006,
which would give our Armed Forces the resources they need to fight the
Global War on Terror and to pay American Soldiers who are serving in
uniform. Jim Gerlach also voted for this bill (Link).

Lois Murphy is strongly opposed to the war in Iraq. She believes that
the war in Iraq has been handled poorly and that Jim Gerlach is to
blame for letting American soldiers enter Iraq without adequate body
armor. Murphy believes that it is time for America to leave Iraq and
start worrying about issues arising here at home. She assures members
of the sixth congressional district that she will change Bush’s failed
policies and take an active roll in bring troops home from Iraq if she
is elected. Besides these few thoughts Murphy has not been clear on
what policies she might have in mind if she wins the November 7

On the issue of education Lois Murphy believes that providing every
child with the opportunity to receive a college education is key. She
believes that there should be a national interest in strengthening our
schools, supporting special education, promoting innovation in the
classroom and reducing class sizes. Murphy also believes in lowering
college prices so that we will have adults who are educated enough to
have careers in the 21st century. Her goals if elected are to lower
college financial aid programs, support early childhood education
programs, and support teacher training and special education programs.

Jim Gerlach believes that education is also a very important issue,
though he takes a different stance on some aspects of the issue.
Gerlach believes that education is very important and he believes that
every child should have an education from kindergarten to twelfth
grade. Gerlach does not believe that the federal government should
fund every single child’s college tuition. He voted in 2006 against
lowering the interest rate of college loans, saying that there was a
price to pay for education past the twelfth grade level.

Gerlach and Murphy have both showed their opposition to the rising gas
prices. Jim Gerlach has been working on lowering gas prices and has
voted against the 18 cent federal gas tax. Gerlach has also announced
his plan for combating the fuel prices with Jim’s Future Fuels Act
which makes the long-term changes we need in fuel consumption by
creating other fuel options.

Lois Murphy has also been vocal about trying to find alternatives and
independence from foreign nations for fuel. She has proposed funding
technologies that will create alternate fuel development and will help
to reduce air pollution. Murphy believes that she can find an
alternative to oil that will be cleaner and more efficient.

Currently the Lois Murphy and Jim Gerlach race has been the closest
race in Pennsylvania. As of September 11, 2006 Lois Murphy has been
ahead in the polls with a 50% to 45% lead. Though there is a little
over a month and a half left until the election on November 7, 2006,
the race will likely remain a tight one.

Cathy Faust