The Congressional races
By Barbara Karkabi
"Gammage knows he's in trouble," a
Capitol Hill aide remarked recently to
several members of the National Women's
Political Caucus. "He knows he's lost
In spite of that, Bob Gammage still
maintains he is a moderate Democrat who
is fiscally conservative, but socially progressive. "I am a civil libertarian," he
says, "but I believe in freedom—not
Disillusioned liberals point out that
the man who calls himself a civil libertarian co-authored legislation to resurrect
the old House Unamerican Activities
Committee-the body that spawned
McCarthyism in the fifties. They say
Gammage has turned his back on the
liberals who supported him when he ran
for the state legislature,, and later in his
1976 Congressional race against the ultra-
conservative Dr. Ron Paul. Now that
Gammage has had his chance in Washington, these liberals point out that his
voting record is nearly as conservative as
Gammage vehemently disagrees with
these allegations. "I was elected with a
broad base of support," he says, "not by
one political faction, and I didn't go to
Congress to represent one group. This is
a tough district. It's urban and suburban,
agricultural and industrial, and I have
tried to represent everyone. I have made
mistakes and I apologize for them. But
don't forget that what some people think
is wrong, might be right in another
The stand that's put Gammage in the
most hot water with feminists is his support of the Hyde Amendment. He has
consistently voted against federal funding
of abortions. "I personally feel that
abortion is an immoral act," he explains.
"Whether it's illegal is another matter. I
don't believe in a constitutional amendment to prohibit abortions, but I do
believe there should be some restrictions
within the Supreme Court decision. Some
women have abortions in the ninth
month, and I can't go along with that. A
time limit should be set up.
"I will only approve of federally
funded abortions," Gammage adds,
"when the mother's life is in danger."
However, last December Gammage voted
against the Michael Amendment, which
allowed use of federal funds for abortion
if the life of the mother was in danger,
and in cases of rape or incest and long-
lasting physical effects. That amendment
did pass the house.
Of Gammage's three Democratic primary opponents, only Gerald Liedtke is
fully behind federal funding for abortions. Mike Richards is unequivically
opposed to federal funding. "I know a
compromise must be reached," he says,
"but I would have to spend hours on my
knees to make a decision." George
Stewart agrees with Gammage's opinions
on funding...but adds, "even though I am
personally opposed to abortions, you
can't legislate morality."
Dr. Ron Paul, who's running unopposed in the Republican Primary, says,
"I believe killing is illegal, and I believe
pregnancy is a new life. As a gynecologist,
I see these babies born crying and then
they die. Yes, I think it's murder-what
else can it be?"
Even though the liberals, blacks, and
women are angry at him, Gammage still
says he will win the primary. And he's
not threatened by any of his opponents.
"Richards, of course, has the most
money," Gammage says. "But I consider
him to be a stalking horse for Ron Paul.
He's no democrat. I'll bet if you checked
his record, you'd find a Republican."
Richards denied that, saying, "I'm not
a closet Republican. What you see is what
you get." Richards says he fills the
vacuum between Ron Paul on the right,
and Gammage, who's supported by labor,
on the left. "People seem to respond to
me as a person because of my character,
honesty and integrity," says Richards.
And Richards points out that he didn't
enter this race to deal with women's
issues, but to deal with inflation. Although he has no specific proposals in
mind to do that, he says, "I have the
broad concepts and will hire people to do
the detail work."
George Stewart claims to be neither
conservative nor liberal. "I approach each
issue with common sense," he says. "We
have to stop throwing money at the
symptoms of problems. Welfare is a good
example. We need to provide these people
with skills, not an incentive to avoid
Gerald Liedtke calls himself "a grassroots candidate out to beat big business."
He says Gammage is a spokesman for the
oil and gas industry, and charges, "He
supports them down the line." Liedtke
says deregulation is a rip-off, and feels
the federal government should set a
maximum price and regulate it.
Liedtke pledges to get behind controversial issues in Congress. He says, "That's
the only way people will realize you're
not going to waffle. I would like to
sponsor consumer legislation and utility
rate reforms. But most of all, I want to
push some of the IWY resolutions
through, especially those relating to child
care and pregnancy."
Although Gammage insists he's confident he can beat all three primary
challengers, he admits to being worried
about the November election. He says it's
going to be a tough race against "that
demagogue" Ron Paul.
Paul was in Congress for a year in
1976. He won the seat vacated by Bob
Casey, beating Gammage in a special election. Gammage came back to beat Paul in
a general election, by only 265 votes.
Many observers say Gammage's fear of
Paul is what's pushed him so far to the
Both Liedtke and Gammage support
the ERA and its extension, while
Richards, Stewart, and Paul are opposed.
Stewart says, "more women are against
it than in favor. I still have not had anyone tell me where the advantages lie."
Paul calls the ERA "economic interference and fundamentally unsound." He
asks, "Why are women the only ones it's
Revision of rape and homosexuality
laws are state matters, according to Gammage and Paul. Stewart and Liedtke
support rape law revision, and Liedtke
says, "It's about time the laws on homosexuality were changed." Richards and
Stewart both say they personally oppose
homosexuality, but "don't feel morality
should be legislated." However, Richards
adds that homosexuality is "a sin and
Gammage and Liedtke both support
strong standards in child care facilities,
along with fees adjustable to family
income. Gammage has voted in favor of
child care legislation, but says it should
be handled by the private sector. Paul is
opposed to child care, and feels it should
be a state issue. "Where does the money
come from?" he asks. "It only hurts the
people it's trying to help."
Pregnancy should be treated like any
other temporary illness, Gammage and
Liedtke again agree. But Stewart feels,
"Pregnancy leave should not be abused.
Ten months is too much time to take off
and it impedes the maximum production
of every individual."
Paul declares that pregnancy should be
treated the way the individual employer
wants to treat it, because "it is his life
and his work. If the employees don't like
it, they don't have to work there." And
Richards says pregnancy is "a controlled
factor, unlike cancer which is not
planned. Insurance policies don't treat it
the same either."
Support of Title IX legislation is
advocated by Liedtke and Stewart,
though the latter adds, "if that's what
women really want." Gammage feels the
matter shoul "be approached with
common sense." Paul and Richards
oppose Title IX. "If I were a woman, "
Richards says, "I wouldn't like it. Why
can't women be happy to be what they
Black organizations are critical of
Gammage because of the low representation of minorities on his staff. But Gammage says, "I have had three black staff
members and two Mexican-Americans.
Right now my staff is predominantly
female, including one woman legislative
aide, three case workers, and my office
manager, who also doubles as my secretary."
All the candidates have women on
their campaign staffs, but only Liedtke
has any minority staffers. When Paul
served in Congress his staff had more
women than men, and he says he even
had "one Latin-American gentleman." He
says all the salaries were equal, and points
out that his campaign manager has always
been a woman.
Gammage agrees with Stewart and
Richards, that there is a physical difference between women and men. "Viva
la difference," says the Congressman
"I'm glad women are different, but that
does not mean that there should be discrimination, which there has been in
salaries and job opportunities."
"Women are different," Paul maintains. Some call his positions discriminatory, but Paul says, "Men are discriminated against too. That's the nature of a
free society." Paul also says some jobs are
earmarked for women, "especially topless
waitresses and stewardesses."
Stewart says, "I don't believe discrimination against women is as bad as some
people say." He claims that he would be
open about including women on his
Congressional staff, "although they must
be competent and perform as efficiently
as anybody else. I object to being blackmailed into a quota system." Richards
basically agrees with Stewart, although he
does concede that women have been discriminated against in the areas of pay and
credit ratings, and Richards adds: "Women are better suited to secretarial
Gerald Liedtke is refreshingly different
from his opponents. "It should be the
goal of women's groups," Liedtke says,
"to have a 50 percent parity rate in
government jobs. If I'm elected, I will
seek out the advice of women's groups in
this matter. You only have to look at the
number of women in government positions to see that there has been job discrimination, and that it stretches to all
levels of society."
Of all the District 22 candidates, Ron
Paul is the most cynical about the IWY
Conference. "Sure it was great to take
$5 million in tax money to use for a
women's conference," he says. "But why
did I have to pay for it? Why don't we
have a men's conference and a doctor's
conference paid for by the federal
In the 8th Congressional District, which
includes north and southeast Houston,
Baytown, Pasadena and LaPorte, Joe
Archer will be running against incumbent
Congressman Bob Eckhardt in the Democratic primary.
Nick Gearhart and Wynn Norris will be
facing each other in the Republican primary.
"That's an accusation typical of our
opponent's tactics," said Ann Lower, Bob
Eckhardt's campaign manager. She was
referring to an accusation by Joe Archer's
campaign staff that Eckhardt voted for
the importation of foreign steel.
"If it were true," she points out, "why
would the United Steel Workers Association be supporting us?"
Archer is running the most aggressive
campaign to date to unseat the person
who has represented District 8 in Congress for the last 12 years.
Eckhardt, although he prefers not to
use labels, is known as an old time populist who is progressive on economic issues.
He has a political reputation as an environmentalist, consumer advocate and
Archer, a partner in the labor law firm
of Combs, Archer & Patterson, terms
himself a moderate Democrat who is conservative on economic issues but liberal
on civil rights issues. Billy Allen, his campaign manager, calls Archer a "new liberal." (continued on next page)