Moseley-Braun faces uphill climb

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    By KRISTEN SONNE

    Pollsters are expecting photo finishes for the Illinois and Wisconsin Senate seats that are up for vote Tuesday night.

    The Illinois Senate race is making history.

    Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun, D-Ill., is the first black woman senator. She was elected in the 1992 election dubbed the “Year of the Woman.” But this may not be enough to overcome the money of her opponent Peter Fitzgerald, a Republican millionaire, who is now in major debt.

    During the March primaries, Fitzgerald spent more than $7 million to win the GOP primary. It is estimated that he has borrowed a line of credit for $8 million, according to a Chicago Sun-Times article, even though it has been estimated that candidates who spend huge amounts of money are not elected.

    Individual contributors cannot give more than $1,000 to a campaign. However, the 1974 Supreme Court decision of Buckley v. Valeo struck down a previous law that only allowed individuals to spend $1,000 on their campaign, according to a Chicago Sun-Times story.

    In that article, Burt Neuborne, of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s School of Law, said, “Specifically, Buckley dramatically increased the political power of rich candidates, who now could pour limitless wealth into their own campaigns, while opponents were left to raise contributions in small donations from the general public, or from special interest political action committees.”

    According to the Center for Responsive Politics’ Web site at www.crp.org/1998elect/”, Fitzgerald had raised $14,473,293 and spent $13,761,179; Moseley-Braun had raised $5,866,930 and spent $5,550,461. According to the site, the figures are up-to-date as of two weeks ago from information candidates filed with the Federal Election Commission.

    Instead of being haunted by ghosts and goblins this past weekend, Moseley-Braun was haunted by past actions that her challenger brings up at every turn. Fitzgerald has labeled her as a liberal “with behavior beyond reproach,” according to a Chicago Sun-Times article. Most of this centers around her trip to visit Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha in 1996. In the article, she said the trips were to visit the wife of the dictator, who is a friend.

    Fitzgerald also said Moseley-Braun had problems with campaign finance in 1992. However, the Justice Department dismissed the IRS requests to investigate her.

    The hauntings against Moseley-Braun have gone so far that last month she even apologized in a commercial. According to a Chicago Sun-Times article last week, she said, “I’ve made some mistakes and disappointed some people.”

    On the other hand, Moseley-Braun’s supporters call Fitzgerald a millionaire who is doing talking and that’s about it.

    A political columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times wrote in September that “it is unusual for a challenger to decline this many opportunities to share the stage with a sitting U.S. senator. Both Moseley-Braun and Fitzgerald have declined opportunities to sit together and debate.

    According to Moseley-Braun’s Web site at www.moseley-braun98.com/, the most important issues to her are education in public schools and the future, as well as older Americans and Social Security.

    Election polls indicate that Moseley-Braun is trailing Fitzgerald 50 to 40 percent, with undecided and the Reform party nominee picking up the other votes. However, the poll, taken by the Chicago Sun-Times/News 2 Chicago last week, had a margin of error of 4.8 percent.

    Money is also one of the main topics of discussion in the U.S. Senate election in Wisconsin. However, it differs from the Moseley-Braun/Fitzgerald race because the Democratic incumbent, Russ Feingold, is voluntarily limiting his campaign spending.

    According to a story in The Capital Times newspaper in Madison, Wis., Mark Neumann, Feingold’s Republican challenger, the campaign is not about money, but about traditional values, tax cuts and Social Security.

    One of the major value controversies is abortion. In a debate last week, Neumann said he is in favor of the unborn. In response, Feingold said he approves partial birth abortions only when “there is a risk of grievous physical injury to the woman or if there is a threat to her life.” In Wisconsin, there is already a state law in place that forbids abortion unless it is necessary for the life of the mother.

    In a debate last week, Feingold emphasized that Neumann has received more than $2 million from the National Republican Party in “soft money,” which is unregulated monies the party can donate. On the other hand, Feingold has not allowed the National Democratic Party to donate “soft money” for ads because he said he would like to uphold his beliefs, according to an article in The Capital Times.

    The Democratic Party was going to run ads for Feingold without his approval, but they recently decided to not pursue this, according to The Capital Times. Because Feingold has refused the ads, Neumann has been moving ahead in the polls, according to the article.

    One issue both candidates agree on is their opposition to “wasteful government spending,” according to the article.

    Like the Moseley-Braun v. Fitzgerald race, the Feingold v. Neumann race is quite close.

    In a poll two weeks ago, conducted by WTMJ-TV, shows Neumann with 46 percent of the vote and Feingold with 43 percent of the vote. However, the margin of error was 4 percentage points.

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