U.S. Rep. Jim Slattery's loyalty to 2nd District voters and challenger Scott Morgan's qualifications for office were called into question Monday night in a televised debate.
The debate, broadcast on Cable Channel 6, pitted Morgan, a Lawrence Republican, against a fill-in for Slattery, a Topeka Democrat seeking his fifth consecutive term in Congress.
Morgan criticized Slattery for accepting $1 million from political action committees in eight years. PACs shouldn't contribute to political candidates, Morgan said.
"I've seen the violence the PACs have done to the system," he said. "It's difficult to believe that Detroit Edison, United Mine Workers . . . really care about northeast Kansas."
Dan Watkins, a Lawrence attorney representing Slattery, said Slattery opposes efforts to block PAC donations. Groups have a right to support any candidate, Watkins said.
"MONEY CAN be abused, but Jim Slattery's vote is not for sale. You won't see PACs or individuals influence Jim Slattery's vote with contributions," he said.
Watkins challenged Morgan's qualifications, asking Morgan whether his "one-dimensional" work for Gov. Mike Hayden and Sens. Bob Dole and Nancy Kassebaum was adequate.
"I have no problem with my experience," Morgan said. "I'm 33 years old, the same age Jim was when he first ran. If you want to limit . . . it to people only in Congress, we're in a world of hurt."
Watkins said Slattery was better qualified, because of his agriculture background, private business experience and service in the Kansas Legislature and Congress.
ON OTHER issues:
Morgan criticized Slattery for voting against pro-choice abortion legislation. Watkins said Slattery doesn't want government involved in abortion issues.
Watkins labeled as unrealistic Morgan's plan for a five-year freeze on federal spending. Morgan said Slattery didn't have a plan to reduce the budget deficit.
Morgan supports the balanced budget amendment. Watkins said Slattery doesn't believe the amendment would become law, but thinks Congress should live within its means.