Note: Rep. Diana Urban, an antiwar Republican, is trying to petition her way onto the U.S. Senate ballot. She must collect 7,500 valid signatures by August 9th. She answered these questions, sent by me via email, between 7/28-7/31, 2006.
1. This is a pretty crowded race already, and one that already includes an antiwar candidate in Ned Lamont. What made you decide to jump in?
It has always been my (not so secret) plan to serve /represent more people. Who would have thought that a seated senator would be challenged by a brave political neophyte and that candidate would start making inroads presumably because of the war with Iraq( however, I believe the D’s discontent with Lieberman goes deeper than that and has to do with alliances formed and positions taken over time) Add in a “R”candidate who served in the legislature but no one can really remember what he stood for and you have “opportunity”
I also felt that if Lieberman actually won the primary there would be no anti war candidate in the race as Lamont has publicly stated that he would not run as an independent if Lieberman won, that he would support the designated Democratic candidate.
In addition, for me this is not just about the war, it is about a country that is at a crossroads. The global economic system requires more education and yet we are cutting Pell grants in favor of tax credits ( who does that favor?). 120,000 kids graduated from High School this year fully capable of going to college and can’t afford it. We are leaving our children a polluted planet to deal with ( inter generational equity) and we are fighting a war while cutting taxes creating a huge deficit(which includes the estate tax while we have yet to get an Earned Income Tax Credit in the State of Connecticut) and laying the ground work for a major recession. We favor factory farming (subsidies and all..some to foreign owners) over family farms. And the growing gap between the rich and the poor reminds me of a Teddy Roosevelt quote that I love to use in speeches “ This will never be a great place for anyone to live until it is a reasonably good place for everyone.”
So this and more... including my 24 yr old son who did a year of service in DC teaching inner city kids saying to me “ You don’t even get it Mom, you need to do more”... lead me to finally (it was an evolving process) file to petition on the ballot.
2. Your positions on issue like the war, the environment and others seem quite different from most others in your party, and you are known for disagreeing with your own caucus. What kind of Republican are you, and do you think Republicans will vote for you?
I have said this time and again, I am a Republican in the mold of TR, Lincoln, Claudine Schneider and I do not know where my party has gone. If you read “Crunchy Cons” you will find parts of it ( although I am vehemently pro choice) and if you go back to what real “Conserve”..atives used to talk about, you will find other parts. This is fertile ground for a discussion about where are country is headed and what the parties actually mean . I have a vision that is inclusive not exclusive and that is what I have based my whole career on and that is what I brought to the Ct General Assembly. So I work on Affordable Housing , and Results Based Accountability , and Low and Moderate Income Microenterprise programs, and universal health care, and animal issues and the cycle of violence and Global Warming and Education for all our kids. I guess it just seems like the right thing to do ( Spike Lee).
A number of people on My own Republican Town Committee have signed my petition and have been quoted in the paper supporting my independent run. Many people signing the petition are Republicans as well as Democrats and Independents. People like what I have to say and they also like the fact that my record backs up my words.
3. Do you think you'll get enough petitions signed to qualify for the ballot? How many would you say you have at this point?
We have about 3800. We expect around 20 % will be invalidated so it is a steep hill to climb. The experience makes it worth it. I now have 55 volunteers and everyone has stories about how incredibly supportive people are. People are eager to participate in a true grass roots effort, making them feel like they really count. I am out getting signatures too and I have been overwhelmed by how much people want me to continue and to not back down in this independent bid. The thoughtful questions and the mini debates that I have had are ample evidence that people not only get it they want to participate. I have had people tell me that they don’t vote because politicians “ just don’t care about me, they care about being re elected.” and then I talk to them about winning by 34 vote in my first election in 2000. And then running unopposed the second time and having my own party offer $10,000 to anyone who would primary me ( New London Day Op Ed By Morgan McGinley) and STILL running unopposed, which I am again in this election..Why??? I believe it is because I work for the people and the people of my district know that. I do not mince my words and worry about the next election. I am concerned about policy and what is best for the long term. I guess that is why I am known as a maverick...and people listen and then say “give me that petition, I want to sign” It is , as I mentioned , an awesome experience.
4. You're running for both the U.S. Senate and your 43rd House District seat at the same time. As you know, one of the complaints against Joe Lieberman is that he ran for both the Senate and Vice President in 2000. How do you justify doing something similar? Will you drop your 43rd House District bid if you qualify for the Senate ballot?
I have always wanted to serve more people, I have a vision based on 22 years of teaching economics, running my own small business, raising an incredible son and serving for 3 terms in the CT General assembly. Should I fail in my bid to get on the ballot, I still want to be able to serve the people of my district. As I write this, I am working on two RFP’s as Co Chair of the Results Based Accountability Work Group of Appropriations, the Energy Bill, 4 Bills on Animal issues, the Earned Income Tax Credit, SB701 on Property Tax that we lost in the final 3 days of the last session, Getting together the Environmental caucus to decide what we will be doing to expand our work on global warming, talking to Nancy Wyman ( the Comptroller) about our continued efforts for affordable health insurance for small business and continuing with the Affordable Housing Task force with the Partnership for Strong Communities These and many other issues are so important to me. Ct law allows me to do what I am doing. Were I to get on the ballot, I would get my volunteers together and assess the situation and make a decision about continuing to run for both offices at that time.
5. What would your priorities be as a U.S. Senator, should you be elected in November?
First and foremost, a re evaluation of A US foreign policy that has lead us in the wrong direction. A combination of a fossil fuel based policy that ignores what Portland Oregon has accomplished ( building a vibrant economic web while cutting GreenHouse Gases to their ‘92 levels) and an administration that seems oblivious to the dangers of unilaterally pushing this policy. We have as a nation made errors , but the magnitude is in this administration dwarfs what I have seen before. I have a policy paper on Iraq and the Middle East that I can make available to you.
On the domestic front, we have people losing their jobs to outsourcing and off shoring but no concerted effort to back and fill the economy with small business and microenterprise ( I have national awards in this area)And we are not helping our kids that need the help to finance a college education that would enable the US to be productive in the global economy. Global Warming is real and we need to start to talk about SUSTAINABILITY..the planet has 6 billion people and carrying capacity is around 11 billion. The impacts of Global Warming will hasten resource wars, famines. We ignore this at our own peril. The debate needs to be framed in a way that people can understand. Al Gore’s film is a huge step in that direction. Universal health Care: The System we have now is economic lunacy. People use the emergency room for their health care, without treatment things spiral out of control costing much more to treat, prevention ( the demand side of the equation..see Paul Krugman’s essay) is ignored. Energy Policy that favors the multi national oil companies rather than subsidizing de centralized alternative energy and promoting efficiency and conservation ( the biggest bang for the buck in the short run)Animal Abuse and the cycle of violence..80% of rap sheets for juveniles show some form of animal abuse.. programs directed an anger management, counseling could help, Affordable Housing: we can’t expect people to succeed without a safe and decent place to live. The list goes on and on and I believe that most politians are so concerned about being re elected that they are afraid to face these issues head on. I am not and have proven that over and over.
6. Do you believe that you can win? Why or why not?
You don’t do this unless you believe that you can win. People get it and they are hungry for a voice to articulate the concerns of “Everyman” I started late but it truly was an evolving process. The response has been more than even I ever expected and galvanized me and my volunteers to work even harder. Want to join us??? Email Chris at DianaUrban2006(at)softhome.net. She is my volunteer Campaign Manager and would be happy to try to answer your questions.