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Rep. Farr stands firm against war

Rep. Farr stands firm against war

Sight of cheering Iraqis hasn’t changed his mind

By Larry Parsons
The Californian
Saturday, April 12, 2003

U.S. Rep. Sam Farr, despite this week’s scenes of jubilation in Baghdad and polls showing widespread American support for war in Iraq, isn’t changing his mind.
A consistent opponent of the Bush administration’s use of military force against Saddam Hussein, Farr contends the 3-week-old war is a highly questionable “failure of diplomacy.”
It’s far too early for a verdict on the war, he said.
“Historians will judge the military effort only by the success of the peace,” Farr said.
But it’s not too early, with the 2004 election season already warming, for a sounding on how his political future could be affected by the war’s likely major role in upcoming elections.
The Carmel Democrat is in his sixth term representing the 17th District, which includes all of Monterey and San Benito counties and most of Santa Cruz County.
Republicans are certain to try to capitalize on the military triumph in Iraq. Will Farr’s antiwar record make him vulnerable in November 2004?
“Two factors mitigate it,” said Democratic campaign consultant Greg Sellers of Morgan Hill. “Sam is largely in line with his constituents ... and 18 months is a very long time.”
Republican campaign strategist Brandon Gesicki of Salinas said Farr’s position on Iraq could help the GOP regain the Central Coast seat held by Democrats for more than a quarter-century.
“A pro-choice, pro-environment moderate Republican could win,” Gesicki said. “If a credible candidate like (state Sen. Bruce) McPherson runs, absolutely. If one doesn’t, (Farr) will get a pass again.”
McPherson, R-Santa Cruz, who lost a 2002 race for lieutenant governor, is being termed out of the state Senate. “A lot of people are trying to get him to run,” Gesicki said.
Farr doesn’t discount the emotional power of the war. He watched Wednesday morning, along with the rest of the world, as joyous Iraqis and U.S. Marines teamed to topple a huge statue of Saddam Hussein in downtown Baghdad.
“We’re all pleased with the winning, but we’re not pleased with the necessity to do this,” Farr said this week.
He said he fully expects Republicans to use “the rally-round-the-troops as a political tool,” but he doesn’t think Central Coast voters will cast him out of Congress for being antiwar.
“We have a thinking district,” Farr said. “I don’t think they react on one day’s news to set foreign policy.”
Before the conflict started, he said his office was receiving letters, e-mails and phone calls overwhelmingly against war.
That sentiment hasn’t changed, Farr said, as he continues to question the war’s costs, in U.S. lives, dollars and international relations, and the unknown price of peace.
“I have an open record, and I’m very proud to stand by it,” he said.

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