tags: Targeted Races

Graves (R-MO-06)

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RESULT: Sam Graves 59% – Kay Barnes (D) 37%

The Race:

Congressman Sam Graves won his first race narrowly in 2000 but has not had to sweat much since. This year, Democrats have recruited a strong challenger in former Kansas City Mayor Kay Barnes. Graves’ team will try to paint Barnes as captive to the city’s interests, someone who will be hostile to the rest of the district, which is largely suburban and rural. The district favors Republicans, but as long as President Bush’s approval ratings remain low, Graves could be in trouble. He is a solid fundraiser, but Barnes has not lagged too far behind. [Roll Call, accessed 5/15/08]

The Graves Position:

ENFORCEMENT ONLY. Graves has been a strong proponent of enforcement-only policies since winning election in 2000. [Graves Press Release, 5/17/07] Homeland security and immigration are the two main issues of the Graves campaign. He has called for a halt in all immigration until non-citizens already here are “accounted for.” Graves opposes President Bush’s plan to give undocumented immigrants “guest worker” status. He says: “We’ve got a sick immigration policy. We need a much more stringent policy. We have to keep illegals out, and we have to do a better job in terms of legal immigration by getting rid of many of the fast-track programs. They should have been done away with right after 9/11.” [CQ Member Profile, 4/1/07]

Graves supports Rep. Heath Shuler’s (D-NC) Secure America through Verification and Enforcement Act, and believes the legislation will help forestall the wave of people coming into the United States illegally. He said Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi opposes the bill because it contains no amnesty component. [St. Joseph News-Press, 5/19/08]

In 2007, Graves wrote an editorial entitled “Enforcement Must Come First, but Amnesty Never as I See it,” that was published in the Kansas City Star. He wrote, “Legalizing 12 million people who have broken the law sends the wrong message. There is a legal and right way to immigrate into this country, but illegal immigrants are here illegally…. We need to think enforcement first. You cannot be serious about protecting the homeland when you don’t even control your own border…. I will continue to support whatever it takes to get control of the border.” [Kansas City Star, 6/13/07]

The Barnes Position:

ENFORCEMENT ONLY. In 2007 Barnes accused her opponent of distilling this complicated issue down into campaign slogans designed by polarize voters. [Roll Call, 10/31/07] In 2008, Graves aired a television ad criticizing Barnes for attending a fundraiser at the residence of Speaker Nancy Pelosi. In the ad, the narrator described Barnes’ immigration stance as saying “Yes to amnesty for illegal immigrants.” [Roll Call, 5/13/08; Hotakainen, Kansas City Star’s Prime Buzz, 3/25/08]

But the candidate’s campaign website indicates Barnes’ support for stronger enforcement against employers who hire undocumented workers, saying that: “Employers who hire illegal immigrants are breaking the law, and we need to hold them accountable. It’s as simple as that.” The site is silent on the question of what to do with the 12 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. [Kay Barnes for Congress, accessed 9/9/08]

A statement released by Barnes lists her immigration position as follows: “First, we must implement the border security recommendations from the 9/11 Commission that have not been put fully into place. Second, we should take a comprehensive strategy, led by law enforcement that includes border fences, additional Border Guards, and proven technology and electronic tracking.”

In a press release, Barnes said, “The issue of immigration reform is another example of Congressman Sam Graves’ trying to rewrite history. Today, he talks about cracking down on illegal immigrants, but for the past seven years, the problem has only gotten worse: on his watch, an estimated 5 million illegal immigrants have crossed the border into the U.S…. In fact, it shouldn’t surprise us: in Congress, Graves voted repeatedly against increasing fines for businesses that hire illegal immigrants and opposed the 9/11 Commission recommendations on border security and immigration that would have put an additional 3,000 border patrol agents on the border…. We will never stop, let alone reverse the flow of illegal immigrants until we take away the reason that most of them come to the U.S. in the first place — the easy availability of jobs.” [Barnes Press Release, 4/18/08]

Missouri 6th