Friday, October 06, 2006

Foley Fallout: Spotlight on Tim Mahoney

The WSJ has a good profile of Democrat Tim Mahoney, Mark Foley's former opponent in the Florida Congressional race, who is now facing GOPer Joe Negron. It shows how much of an underdog Mahoney was in his battle against Foley until the bombshell was dropped last week. Mahoney also apparently describes himself as a "conservative Christian", and names Ronald Reagan as his hero.

As Republican leaders in Washington work to contain the Mark Foley scandal, Democratic challenger Tim Mahoney is hoping it will propel him into Congress.

Mr. Mahoney has gone from long shot to strong contender because of Mr. Foley's resignation after news reports that he sent sexually explicit communications to teenagers who were House pages. It is a dramatic reversal for a political newcomer who had trailed Mr. Foley in most polls despite spending nearly $400,000 of his own money on the race.

But while Democrats are celebrating the likely gain of a solidly Republican House seat, the choice of Mr. Mahoney illustrates the ideological compromises the party is making to retake the House. A self-described conservative Democrat, Mr. Mahoney is a former Republican who didn't switch his party affiliation until 2005. He describes Ronald Reagan as a political hero and himself as a "conservative Christian." He talks about the need to reduce abortions, though he doesn't favor banning them. Mr. Mahoney owns a gun and says he supports the right to firearms and doesn't want stricter gun laws. He also favors eliminating the estate tax on family farms and securing the nation's borders better.

Whatever his ideological leanings, there is little question that Mr. Mahoney's campaign slogan -- "to restore integrity to public office" -- was prescient. "My message hasn't changed. I was talking about morals and values and what's wrong with Washington a year ago," he says in an interview after a lunch-time campaign event here. "What's happened is that national events have caught up."


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