Space is not a key issue is most Congressional campaigns, something most people understand (even if they don’t like it.) However, in the last week space policy issues have cropped in a couple of Congressional races in locations not typically considered space hotspots:
The Gainesville (Fla.) Sun reports on a race to win the Democratic Party nomination for Florida’s 5th district, in west-central Florida. the paper asked three candidates questions on a number of issues, including immigration policy, Iraq, offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico (a big issue in Florida), stem cell research…, and space:
ISSUE: Do you support indefinite continuation of NASA’s manned-flight space program?
Rick Penberthy: I think we have to take a good look at the space program, especially the shuttle and see if that is the best way to continue with space exploration.
John T. Russell: Yes. The mission of humanity is to explore, and manned space flight as a means of exploration must remain a component of our nation’s science program.
H. David Werder: I would like to see a man on Mars.
Not necessarily the most insightful answers, but it was interested to see space elevated to the same level as Iraq and immigration.
Meanwhile, Courier-Life Publications, which publishes a number of neighborhood newspapers in Brooklyn and Queens, recounts a candidates’ forum whose participants included Congressman Anthony Weiner, a Democrat who is not facing a challenger his party’s primary. After the forum, Weiner got a question about his proposed amendment to an appropriations bill earlier this year that would have cut funding from NASA’s Mars exploration program:
After his talk, Weiner was asked by one of the few public observers at the forum, Eugene Cervone, secretary of the National Space Society Chapter of New York, about his amendment to cut the NASA budget by $477 million and give the funds to the COPS Program to hire more police. His amendment was defeated in June, but Weiner said that the NASA budget is being increased. “I support the space program,” Weiner said.
Supports it so much he tried to take money away from arguably one of the more productive and popular parts of it, it would seem.