Sharen Neuhardt is running for the newly formed 10th congressional district. She sat down with Emily McCord for this week's edition of PoliticsOhio to say why she thinks she'll win the election. Neuhardt the state of her campaign, the potential defense cuts coming with sequestration and its impact on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and how she plans to help Delphi workers that lost their pension after the company went through bankruptcy.
McCord: Welcome to PoliticsOhio I’m Emily McCord and I'm joined today by Sharen Neuhardt she's a Democrat and she's running against congressman Mike Turner for Ohio’s' newly formed 10th district. Welcome.
Neuhardt: Thank you for having me.
M: So, let’s begin. What distinguishes you from Mike Turner?
N: So many things. I think that the choice between me and Mike Turner is as stark as the choice between President Obama and Mitt Romney. I believe very strongly that the Miami Valley has suffered mightily in the last 10 years while Mike Turner has been representing us in Congress and I think it’s time for a change.
M: You ran for Congress in 2008 and lost to Republican Steve Austria then in the 7th District so why do you think this time will be different?
N: Well this time is different because this is a brand new congressional district, with the redistricting that occurred the Ohio Legislature created this new Ohio 10th Congressional District and they put Montgomery County all back together in one district. The last time Montgomery County was together in one district Tony Hall, who’s a Democrat, represented for 24 years. So in the Ohio 10th we have Montgomery County, Greene County, all of Greene County, and probably 2/3 of the voters in Fayette County. It’s actually a district that makes a lot of sense surprisingly so, considering how wacky a lot of the gerrymandered districts are in this state. And this is also a really interesting district now because it squarely puts Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in one congressional district and that's a very big deal.
M: I'm gonna want to talk about Wright-Patt in just a moment but I do want to touch on this, the Democratic Congressional Committee had put your race as one to watch against Mike Turner they put some money behind the campaign to do some ads, since then they have shifted some of that money to other national races and I wonder does that show a lack of confidence in your campaign? Why did they move the money away from your race?
N: Well we don't really know the answer to that because that is on the independent expenditure side of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and we cannot talk to them but the Democratic, I can tell you this [sic], the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is very interested in this race we're still a target race we talk to the people in Washington on a daily basis they paid for a lot of our field support so they have been a big help to us. They saw we went up on TV early and did a lot TV and that could have been part of their decision too.
M: Now what about the state of your campaign finances right now are they in a healthy position?
N: When you are in the final stages and like we are with two, two plus weeks out from this election you are spending every dime you bring in and you are spending it on the campaign so that's what we are doing. And were gonna be fine until the end probably the day after the election if I have 50 cents in my account then that's 50 cents I should of spent getting out and talking to voters.
M: Mike Turner served in Congress since 2003 and he is a ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee and so I wonder how will you if you are elected as a freshman Congresswoman wield your influence to best represent the Miami Valley.
N: I believe strongly that President Obama is going to be reelected in another two weeks and also that Sherrod Brown is going to be reelected. When I am elected I am going to be the only Democratic member of Congress in entire Southwest Ohio so I'm going to be an important team player for Ohio in Congress. I'm going to work tirelessly and one of the things I talk about all the time is that this isn't about Republicans or Democrats this is about the people in the Miami Valley and of Ohio it’s a team effort it’s going to take all of us. I intend to work with John Boehner, I intend to work with Steve Stivers, I intend to work with Republicans throughout Ohio and Democrats to do the best job that I can for Miami Valley.
M: Talking about Wright-Patterson Air Force Base as soon as this election is over one of the big topics that we are going to have to deal with is sequestration, these are the automatic across the board cuts to government expenses that was put in place in the aftermath over the fight over the debt ceiling. It could mean $500 billion in defense cuts coming our way. Your opponent Mike Turner says four to five thousand jobs could be at risk. I want to start out, do you agree with that assessment?
N: I think that thousands of jobs could be at risk if we can't avoid this fiscal cliff and we go into sequestration. That’s absolutely true, where I take issue with Mike Turner is the fact that he could have stood up and done something about it before this got to this point. And I find it so curious that he goes around and has all these hearings and talking about the effects of sequestration and asking people about it as if he doesn’t know. He knows what the problem is. The problem is that he won’t compromise he and other Republican members of Congress will not compromise to avoid sequestration. The democrats are willing to make significant, substantial, cuts in the budget he is willing to cripple Wright-Patt and put thousands of defense jobs at risk here in the Miami Valley simply because he wants to protect tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and that is an indefensible position. He should be doing what is right for the entire Miami Valley not just the top 1%.
M: I know that deadline for this is going to happen before you are sworn in but it still could be an issue if you are elected to Congress. You talk about working in a bipartisan fashion; can you give me an example of something that you'd be willing to compromise on that in order to get something like a budget deal reached?
N: Sure, one of the things the President talks about is raising the taxes on the top 2% of Americans and actually it’s not really raising the taxes is just letting the tax cuts expire so that the people in the top 2% of the economy pay what they did when Bill Clinton was President. Instead of saying that we're going to let the tax cut expire on people making $250,000 or more I could take the number up to $500,000 or $750,000 I mean the people I'm concerned about are people like Mitt Romney who are paying less than an effective tax rate than you are, I'm concerned about Warren Buffett who keeps saying I'm happy to pay more taxes. I'm concerned, I’m a little perplexed at why Mike Turner wants to protect tax breaks for people like Paris Hilton, I think that's silly.
M: What about the defense cuts? Would you be willing to have some major defense cuts in place? Or is it an all or nothing proposition with $500 billion defense cuts on the table?
N: Oh no, remember that the Defense Department has already agreed to almost $500 billion in defense cuts that are going to go into place over the next 10 years the question is are we going to put another $500 billion on top of that? That's the issue that's in this sequestration this fiscal cliff problem. I think what we need to be looking at as we look at the Defense Department after we get out of Afghanistan and we are no longer on an active war footing I think we need to be looking at how to spend our money smartly and frankly spending our money smartly involves the kinds of things we are doing at Wright-Patt.
M: Let’s talk about Delphi for a moment, non-union workers lost their pensions during its bankruptcy after the auto bail out, what will you do to help those folks who have lost 30-70% of their pensions when their union colleagues were able to keep theirs.
N: A couple of things: first of all I understand the need to investigate and to get to the bottom of whether there really was anything done wrong in the whole process that’s fine and I'm happy to have congressional hearings about that. But what I want think Mike Turner should be focusing on is let’s get those hearings and let’s actually try to solve those problems. Let me tell you what Sherrod Brown has done, Sherrod Brown has introduced legislation into the Senate that would fix this problem and it would allow Delphi salaried employees to receive 100% of their pensions. Mike Turner won’t talk about that, Mike Turned should have gone immediately and introduced that into the House of Representatives and he hasn’t done it. I also find it curious and maybe it’s a good political strategy of his to focus on these Delphi salary workers because you’ll remember the Mike Turner voted against the auto rescue the rescue that saved 1 in 8 jobs ins Ohio and has proven to be enormously, enormously, successful at helping middle class families and workers all throughout this country and especially in Ohio. If Mike Turner had his way nobody's pensions would’ve have been protected and the Delphi salary the Delphi union the GM union, everyone would have lost their pensions if Mike Turner had had his way.
M: I've been speaking with Sharen Neuhardt she is running for 10th congressional district here in Ohio thanks for joining me today.
N: Thanks Emily I’ve really enjoyed it.
M: And join us next week we will also be talking with current congressman Mike Turner.