Immigration Foe Makes Run at Lowey

Gerald McKinstry, Journal News (White Plains, New York), October 5, 2008

She’s a 10-term incumbent with a $1.1 million war chest.

He’s a semiretired computer consultant with $19,000 in campaign debt from previous races and a candidate for a congressional district that spans parts of Westchester and Rockland counties in which there are 72,000 more Democrats than Republicans.

So does Jim Russell, a conservative Republican running against Rep. Nita Lowey, D-Harrison, actually think he can win?

“I think she might be surprised what people are saying,” Russell said last week in an interview with The Journal News. “It’s a very unpredictable election season. If that picks up, there could be massive dissatisfaction.

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In addition to supporting congressional term limits—a maximum of four terms—Russell, 54, is campaigning on immigration reform; eliminating earmarks, the so-called pork for “local pet projects”; and promoting renewable energy sources throughout the Lower Hudson Valley.

It’s his third run for Congress. Russell was unsuccessful in securing the GOP line twice before, though he ran as a write-in two years ago after losing the Republican primary.

Lowey, 71, was first elected in 1988. She serves on the House Appropriations Committee and the House Homeland Security Committee, and she chairs the Appropriations subcommittee on state and foreign operations.

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Given the recent news of a $700 billion federal bailout of Wall Street, Russell wants a package that first guarantees retirement accounts for American workers and helps those who were victims of predatory lending. He’s also calling for an investigation to find out how the situation spun out of control.

“The most important is to guarantee the savings of working people,” he said.

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Russell’s central campaign issue is immigration reform, and he railed against what he perceived was Lowey’s “unresponsiveness” to addressing it on a national level. A founder of Westchester-Rockland Citizens for Immigration Control and an author of a book on the issue, Russell said the matter affects many others including taxes, education and the economy.

He specifically wants those who are here illegally, particularly those who have been convicted of a crime, to be deported.

“Immigration is out of control in the district,” Russell said. “She doesn’t sense this as a pressing problem.”

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Russell is also against globalization because it’s “bad for the American economy” and wants the North American Free Trade Agreement overturned because he thinks too many jobs have been lost by the initiative.

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Though Lowey and Russell found common ground in their support for developing renewable energy—wind, solar and other alternatives—they differ on Indian Point. He says it’s unrealistic to close the nuclear power plant in Buchanan while she says it eventually should be closed.

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The 18th District includes most of central and southern Westchester, from the Bronx line north to Ossining, and parts of the towns of Haverstraw and Clarkstown in Rockland.

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