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Farragut tussle
McGill, Duncan aide sound off in local forum as U.S. Rep. race heats

A score of Farragut Republican Club members spent much of Thursday night, June 8, trying to decide which of two congressional candidates from Farragut — incumbent U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan Jr. or GOP challenger Ralph McGill — could out-conservative the other.

McGill, a Knox County resident since 1978, struck a resonant chord with some members by advocating strict immigration policy that would round up illegal aliens, return them to Mexico and require them to undergo immigration processes properly.

Duncan, who represents the state’s Second District, was in Washington, D.C., for a House vote on efforts to streamline the oil refinery process to improve fuel flow to gasoline-hungry Americans, but Dean Rice of his campaign spoke for the congressman. He said Duncan had long advocated tougher controls along the U.S. southern border.

McGill, a retired Oak Ridge National Laboratories mechanical engineer, seeks to serve in Congress, he said, “because for the first time in my life, I’m not optimistic about the future of my country.” If asked to rate members of Congress, including Duncan, McGill said, “I’d give them all an F.

“My generation is responsible for what’s gone wrong,” McGill said. “We’ve created a dependent society…. strayed from the principles and values on which we were founded — values that will keep us strong unless we throw them away.”

Calling limited federal government a “Republican Party mantra,” McGill said state’s rights now are overshadowed by unbridled federal growth. In public education, McGill said, states should regain the upper hand by refusing federal revenues that pay just 6 percent of public education’s costs. A tax-and-spend federal government, he said, “tries to be everything to everybody” and undermines people’s motivation to work and succeed.

“Once they succeed,” McGill said of entrepreneurs, “they become the bad guys” in the eyes of an Internal Revenue Service heavily taxing profits. McGill also resents “Christian bashing” he said goes on in Washington.

“If I wish you a Merry Christmas and that somehow offends you — then tough!” McGill told fellow Republicans. “Get over it!”

American family values, McGill said, have eroded so it’s popular to bash idyllic American family life as once portrayed on “Leave It to Beaver” TV episodes.

On immigration, McGill said, “the Senate had a chance” to enact legislation reclaiming the southern border. “But they passed the wimpiest bill,” he said, “one that throws out all our immigration rules.” Instead, he added, “we should close the border, build a fence, electrify it (and) prosecute any who knowingly hire illegal aliens. Send them back,” he added of aliens.

“Just go to any emergency room or county health department. You’ll see where (illegals) are,” McGill added. “I feel sorry for them. I wouldn’t want to live in Mexico, either. But four billion people live in countries with living standards lower than Mexico’s. Make them get in line.”

Once incumbents are ousted from Congress, McGill said, strict term limits should keep successors from succeeding themselves. Incumbents, he added, should have to sit out one term before becoming eligible to run again.

McGill also advocated “fair tax” legislation because “the I-R-S Code is a political tool now, used by politicians to build their constituency.”

Rice said Duncan remains “one of Congress’ leading conservatives” whose “priorities are right on the money.” Duncan, he said, advocated using troops to enforce the Mexican border long “before that became the flavor of the day,” popular in Congress. Such actions, Rice said, often must “float to the top of a congressional stew” before they get done.

“Congressman Duncan has never voted for a tax increase,” Rice said, but he’s supported tax cuts and co-sponsors a fair-tax proposal now before Congress. Duncan favors replacing the tax code with “a simple, straightforward tax,” he said, and he believes in reducing the size of federal government.

Rice said Duncan has “a one-hundred percent rating” from conservative groups on issues such as “right to life,” and supports defining marriage as union between a man and woman.

Rice, who formerly worked with U.S. Sens. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., and Elizabeth H. Dole, R-N.C., said of Duncan: “I’ve never known an individual with more integrity and love for country. There’s not a pretentious bone in his body.”

Brian Hornback, the Knox County GOP chairman, urged Republicans to work for any of three GOP U.S. Senate candidates — Ed Bryant, Bob Corker or Van Hilleary, rather than let U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Jr., D-Memphis, win U.S. Sen. Bill Frist’s seat Nov. 7.

“If Ford and [Democratic Gov. Phil] Bredesen win,” Hornback said, “the modern Republican Party that [former Gov.] Winfield Dunn worked hard to establish will become absolutely useless.”


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