Congressional candidate Ira Shapiro spoke to students after school Tuesday.
The discussion was the third in a series hosted by the Student Democrat Association. Shapiro is one of three Democrats hoping to oppose Republican Connie Morella, representative of Maryland's 8th Congressional District, in the 2002 election. Shapiro's two opponents for the Democratic primary, Christopher Van Hollen and Mark Kennedy Shriver, came to Blair on Dec 20 and Feb 25 respectively (see Related Stories to the left).
Shapiro worked as a senior Senate staff member for twelve years, after which he directed the D.C. Subcommittee and worked for the Governmental Affairs Committee. He was Senator Jay Rockefeller's first Chief of Staff and was a key figure in the finalization of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). He became chief trade negotiator to Japan and Canada in 1995.
Shapiro distanced himself from the other Democratic candidates based on his experience in Washington. He said that Van Hollen and Shriver have done excellent work on the Maryland state legislature, but they lack experience in national and international areas.
Lansing Freeman, staff sponsor of the Student Democrat Association, asked Shapiro the same question he asked Van Hollen and Shriver, "Other people have fared poorly against Connie Morella. How will you do better?"
Shapiro replied that the time was right for Morella to leave. With an almost evenly split Senate and House of Representatives, Shapiro belives that people realize the nation is currently balanced on a knife's edge, and having a Republican representative "is a luxury that [the people of this district] cannot afford." He added that Democratic candidates in the last few Congressional elections have helped weaken Morella's hold on the region, and he suspects that Morella may even take the opportunity to withdraw from the election.
Shapiro's campaign website is http://www.irashapiro.com.
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