Candidate profiles: U.S. representative in Texas District 15
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Name: Aaron Cohn
City of residence: Harlingen
Occupation: Retired doctor
Party affiliation: Libertarian
Name: Ruben Hinojosa
City of residence: Mercedes
Occupation: Incumbent congressman, Texas District 15
Party affiliation: Democrat
Name: Eddie Zamora
City of residence: Edinburgh
Occupation: Sales and marketing executive
Party affiliation: Republican
Candidates for U.S. representative in Texas District 15 say the Nov. 2 race boils down to an important question.
Do you favor Congress' handling of the economic slump?
Of course, other questions remain pertinent to the district, which forms a narrow alley from DeWitt County to the Texas-Mexico border. Strategies for economic recovery, however, dominated talk for this story.
Ruben Hinojosa, the Democratic incumbent from Mercedes, faces Republican Eddie Zamora of Edinburgh and Libertarian Aaron Cohn of Harlingen.
Hinojosa's opponents chastised the incumbent, who voted for the massive federal bailout and stimulus bills. He thus helped to saddle future generations with debt without stimulating much of anything, the opponents argue.
"We've got to come back to fiscal responsibility," said Zamora, a 47-year-old sales and marketing executive. "We've been spending money right and left. People are struggling to make ends meet. Businesses are going out of business. Those stimulus programs did not supply real jobs. The private sector supplies real jobs."
Big government does not steer a country out of troubling economic times, Zamora added. The free market does, he said.
"I would have voted against every one of those bailouts," Zamora said. "I would not have put failures and mistakes on the backs of the American taxpayers. We need to divert power away from Washington, D.C., and back to the states."
Cohn, the Libertarian challenger, agrees with the idea of less government control and federal debt.
"By the votes I cast and the legislation I introduce, I will work relentlessly to keep Big Brother out of your wallets, bank accounts, bedrooms, telephone lines and doctors' offices," Cohn said. "My platform is freedom, essentially."
Cohn said he wishes to radically slash government budgets and undo what he said Democrats have ruined.
"I'm neither a Republican nor a Democrat," he said. "If you really look at where the Republicans and Democrats stand, they're both big government - just in different ways."
Hinojosa, the seven-term Democratic incumbent, defended his support of federal bailout and stimulus bills, and said his opponents offer little but lofty talk.
"I consider the economy and jobs to be the most important issue I am working on," Hinojosa said. "If we had not voted to first pass the Troubled Asset Relief Fund money, we would have gone into a deep, deep recession. If we had not approved the stimulus fund, $787 billion ... It takes money to start stimulating the economy and jobs. Look at what we did to save the automotive industry."
Hinojosa said he recognizes the steep unemployment rate. He said he vows to support tax incentives for small businesses, as well as jobs bills.
"Under Bill Clinton, we had a budget surplus," the incumbent said. "George Bush and the Republican-controlled administration left us with massive debt. Why didn't my opponents complain when we went from a surplus to massive debt? They are trying to make us look like the bad guys, but they were the ones who blew it."