Carter stumps at Tahoe for Nevada U.S. Senate seat: Democratic president’s son is running for Ensign’s position
With looks and a Southern voice similar to his presidential father, Jack Carter is banking on experience and his name to propel him to the Nevada senate seat held by Republican John Ensign.
Carter, a 58-year-old leading Democrat to challenge Ensign’s bid for a second term, has the background of a politician and remains upbeat about his prospects although he’s behind in poll numbers and campaign contributions to the incumbent.
Carter believes he can take the “barely red” Nevada from Ensign by campaigning in the state’s outskirts. During the first portion of a Monday interview he noted Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., almost won Nevada during the 2004 presidential election, although rural sections voted heavily for George W. Bush.
Carter has never held an elective office before but he dismisses the notion of him being a political neophyte. He campaigned for his father, Jimmy Carter, the 39th president of the United States, for the office in the 1970s and said he gleaned much from the experience.
With his wife, Elizabeth, looking on and sometimes agreeing with her husband or offering her own questions, Carter delved into his background and ideas. He served in the Navy during Vietnam. He earned an undergraduate degree in physics at Georgia Tech and graduated with a law degree in 1972 from the University of Georgia School of Law.
After campaigning for his father’s presidential bid, Carter joined the agribusiness world and currency markets. He believes being a businessman is his strongest suit to being a politician.
Carter said he decided to run for the senate seat after being disgusted with the administration’s response to survivors of Hurricane Katrina.
“I turned to Elizabeth and said, ‘This is too much,'” he said.
The war in Iraq was one of the first issues he addressed.
Although he said he’s not afraid for American forces to leave Iraq, Carter believes a timeline for an exit should be installed but not before the country can maintain itself.
“I feel like we have some responsibility to the Iraqi people to provide them with a stable government,” he said.
American values in democracy, family, business and freedom are being comprised under Bush’s administration and the Republican controlled legislature, he added.
“Fiscal conservancy has gone out the window,” Carter said.
Issues such as water and energy surrounding growth is the short-term concern facing Nevada, he said. Drawing from people met on the campaign trail and his science background, Carter described practices on recycling nuclear waste, which would help decrease the nation’s dependency on foreign oil, when asked about his thoughts on Yucca Mountain holding nuclear waste.
Repeatedly he remarked about the strong will of the American people and how obstacles, such as problem-solving and creating efficient ways to consume oil, can be overcome if given the opportunity. Along those lines, he said in 20 years the country can turn “180 degrees” around.
“You mean if you have a leadership that will do (that),” his wife said.
Regarding immigration, Carter’s solution includes securing the border, somehow punishing the illegal immigrants already in the country while creating a chance for citizenship.
His lone attack on Ensign paralleled his argument against the administration. Carter said Ensign voted with the administration “96 percent” of the time.
“He’s tighter with the administration than (embattled Texas congressman) Tom DeLay,” Carter’s Web site states.
Paul Adams, chairman of the Nevadan Republican Party, dismissed talking about Carter. The state’s voters will recognize Ensign’s work for Nevada, such as working to improve Lake Tahoe’s clarity, and “overwhelming” reelecting the incumbent.
Adams disputed Carter’s notion of Ensign agreeing the administration is a drawback.
“He’s supporting the president that the state voted for twice,” he said.
A representative with Ensign’s office could not be reached for comment.
Cindy Trigg, a volunteer for Carter’s campaign, is impressed with Carter’s stance for the need of administration oversight and his support of the Constitution.
“He talks about governing by and through our Constitution rather than through fear,” Trigg said. “And that is huge for me. We have to get back to our Constitution.”
Although three months to the August primary, Ensign has amounted more than $3.4 million in campaign contributions through the end of March, according to PoliticalMoneyLine. Carter has less than one-fifth of Ensign’s war chest with contributions at $645,056 through the same period.
Nonetheless, Carter remains confident and plans to use his background, and family ties, on the campaign trail.
“It’s the kind of name that makes people want to hear what I have to say,” he said.