Brian Gottstein is a libertarian who believes in very limited government and a great deal of individual freedom coupled with personal responsibility. He runs a political consulting, public relations and marketing firm in Roanoke. He has worked closely with Roanoke Mayor Ralph Smith on his election team and throughout his mayoral tenure. Gottstein managed for Alice Hincker's 2004 Republican mayoral bid in Roanoke, as well as Wendy Jones' council candidacy.

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Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Would Rick Boucher have been a better VP choice for John Kerry?

By Brian Gottstein

John Kerry needed to move his vice-presidential radar just a little farther north of North Carolina to Virginia this week.

That’s one way Southwest Virginia could have gotten rid of Rick Boucher, the nice, but liberal, congressman. We could have convinced (or paid) John Kerry to pick him as his running mate.

Boucher represents the Virginia’s Ninth Congressional District, which covers part of Roanoke County, and runs west through Montgomery County and all of Southwest Virginia.

It would be nice to see Rick go. His tax-and-spend votes in Congress usually negate Rep. Bob Goodlatte’s more conservative votes, often giving Southwest and Central Virginia a null vote in Congress.

In addition, his liberal values don’t seem to coincide with the rugged Southwest Virginia farmers, coal miners,and others in his district. Unfortunately, his constituents have loved the smell of pork he’s brought back to his district for his 22 years in Congress, so they keep re-electing him.

Boucher’s opponent in November is former NASCAR executive Kevin Triplett, who points out this week that “if Senator Kerry was, in fact, looking for a running mate who shares his same liberal agenda, he should have chosen Rick Boucher.”

According to the Washington Post, Kerry’s criteria for his search included “someone committed to Kerry's core agenda” and “someone compatible with Kerry on every level."

According to Boucher’s and Kerry’s voting records:

• Boucher voted three times to cut the intelligence budget in the 1990s, and Kerry introduced legislation to cut intelligence spending in the mid-1990s by $300 million a year from 1996-2000.

• Boucher voted seven times against a ban on partial-birth abortions, and Kerry voted against a ban on partial-birth abortions in 2003.

• Both Boucher and Kerry voted to increase the portion of Social Security benefits subject to taxation from 50 percent to 85 percent.

• Boucher has received “F”ratings for the last nine years from the National Taxpayers Union, and Kerry talks about repealing the economy-boosting Bush tax cuts.

Triplett is running one of the stiffest challenges that the incumbent Boucher has faced. The White House is so interested in a Triplett win that Vice President Dick Cheney visited Southwest Virginia to campaign for the candidate. And Congressional Quarterly magazine recently mentioned Boucher as among four Democrats that “could be vulnerable to an upset.”

Since we couldn’t replace Rick Boucher by convincing John Kerry to entice him away with the VP position, we’ll have to do it the old fashioned way: at the ballot box in November.

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