Sunday, June 25, 2006

Where, Oh Where Is Allyson Schwartz?

Northeast News Gleaner recaps Raj's call for debates.

Republican candidate Raj Bhakta (R) has challenged incumbent U.S. Rep. Congresswoman Allyson Y. Schwartz (D-13) to a series of debates.

Bhakta, a former contestant on the television show 'The Apprentice,' accepted an invitation to debate on 'The Daily Show' with Jon Stewart. Schwartz, however, declined - wishing to keep the debates in the district instead of on TV.

"You wonder, why wouldn't somebody want to debate their opponent?" Bhakta said. "Either, they are afraid that they are going to look worse, which I would if I were her, or, you are just so full of contempt for the voters that you figure you are above that and they will vote for you anyway."

Now, Bhakta suggests a series of 12 debates, six in Montgomery County and six in Northeast Philadelphia.

"We want to get out and take questions from the voters," he said. "I have nothing to be afraid of."

Calls to Schwartz's office were not returned before deadline.

While both candidates have said they want to debate, the specific details of where and when have yet to be ironed out.

"Anytime, anyplace, I'll debate," Bhakta said. He even purposed one for the fourth of July.

"Her vision for America's future, on the day America was born, versus my own," he said.

"My issues, quietly clearly, are how do we deal with the big issues of the country and the big issues of the area and Northeast Philadelphia," Bhakta said, "which are rising crime, declining services, a mayor who's trying to destroy Northeast Philadelphia."

As his grassroots campaign continues, Bhakta gains confidence.

"Meeting with the people and talking with the people, you realize what makes this country great," he said. "It gives me a lot of confidence when I'm out there and talking to people because I realize how very poorly represented they people."

Bhakta wants to launch a movement to "save the Northeast." "It needs some saving," he said.

His campaign is compiling crime statistics for the Northeast that show a "quintupling of crime." Bhakta says that over the past four years crime in "most areas" has increased four fold.

"That is ridiculous," he said. "It's unbelievable. A community can only hold up to that kind of attack for so long. Take a ride down Schwartz Street and it looks like that - four times as much crime."


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