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Former state representative/attorney Deborah Ross and Army vet/former White House staffer Alain Swain are squaring off for the newly legislated NC U.S. District 2, with the pandemic, Medicaid and the ACA on the list of voters concerns.
By Thomas Goldsmith
Jeff Matemu, Libertarian from Raleigh
Political experience: Libertarian Congressional Candidate 2018
Education/personal: American University, Washington School of Law
Campaign contributions: As of June 30, 2019, Matemu had raised $625 for his campaign, spent $54 and had no cash on hand, according to OpenSecrets.org.
Deborah Ross, Democrat from Raleigh
Political experience: Five terms, 2003-2013, as a representative for District 38 in the North Carolina General Assembly.
Education/personal: Brown University, University of North Carolina Law School; general counsel, Triangle Transit; attorney, business ethics consultant. and senior lecturing fellow.
Campaign contributions: As of June 30, Ross had raised $1,343,201 for her campaign, spent $868,128 and had $473,073 on hand, according to OpenSecrets.org.
Alan Swain, Republican from Raleigh
Education/personal: The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina; attended Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University, Auburn University; and Army War College. Retired Army colonel and White House staffer.
Campaign contributions: As of June 30, Swain had raised $53,867 for his campaign, spent $35,646 and had $18,221 on hand, according to OpenSecrets.org.
Matemu has generally not responded to candidate questionnaires or appeared in televised forums. His website lists as his priorities “tax reduction, balanced budget, entitlements, domestic program spending, (and) defense spending.” He has a personal Facebook page that has some general comments about policy.
Here are some of the stances espoused by Ross and Swain:
The Affordable Care Act
As litigation over the federal Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, nears the United States Supreme Court, Ross told an internet Triangle.AARP–NC Serious Illness Coalition forum that her “greatest, fervent hope” is that the high-court justices do not overturn the legislation. “The Affordable Care Act has provided a lifeline to millions and millions of Americans,” she said.
Swain has spoken more generally on health issues, without embracing the ACA. “I promise to make health care my top priority going up to Washington, D.C.,” Swain said at the forum, “specifically by protecting Medicare/Medicaid, reducing the price of prescription drugs, reducing the abuse and waste within the system, and looking for block grants to help the state and district improve healthcare.”
On his website, Matemu writes that Libertarians “care about healthcare,” but did not offer any specific policy suggestions.
On issues related to access to women’s reproductive rights, Swain opposes abortion under most circumstances, but favors exceptions in cases of “incest and rape, or an indication that it will affect the health of the mother.” Also on the conservative iVoter Guide, he agreed with the statement “Human life begins at conception and deserves legal protection at every stage until natural death.”
Ross opposes governmental interference in women’s reproductive rights, saying on her website “No politician should come between medical providers and their patients.” She cites as background her decades of work to protect access to abortion, both as a legislator and as an attorney. “In Congress, I will prioritize fighting for access to quality health and reproductive care,” she said.
Ross pointed out on WRAL her work as an advocate for causes including extending coverage under Medicaid to many more North Carolinians: “I fought to expand Medicaid coverage for over 500,000 uninsured North Carolinians… In Congress, I will continue to prioritize health care by protecting coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, expand access to care, and lower the cost of prescription drugs.”
Swain does not favor expansion of federal health insurance for lower-income people. “The other party (wants) it to be managed and subsidized at the federal level. I advocate pushing the money and the needs of the local population to the state of North Carolina and Wake County, Congressional District 2.”
On his website, Swain says he wants to protect Medicare as part of improving health care and spoke about providing coverage for people age 55 to 65, calling that a “limbo area.”
“Maybe they pay much higher Medicare premiums, but we need the federal government to subsidize them to cover them until they’re fully eligible for Medicare because I’m really worried about rising health care costs,” he said.
As Medicare faces long-term financing questions, Ross says she’s frightened by some of President Donald Trump’s plans about entitlements, including cutting payroll taxes. “There are many things that Congress can do to shore them up, including increasing funding and raising some of the caps on contributions for the highest wage earners.”
Use of masks as protection from COVID-19
Ross used means including Twitter to make clear her advocacy for generally accepted hygiene practices to combat COVID-19. “Remember to wear a mask, wait six feet apart and wash your hands. Together, we can keep each other safe and healthy,” she tweeted Oct. 2.
Swain said recent incidents that infected Trump, his aides and family members made him more convinced of the necessity of using masks, social distancing and other means to stay safe from the virus.
“I would advocate that to everyone here,” he said. “It is the most important thing you can do, is take care of yourself.”
On his personal Facebook page in May, Matemu posted “If the store policy says you have to wear a mask to shop there, then wear the damn mask.”