September 20, 2002 - New York Times: RPCV Congressman Tony Hall Puts Dream Job Over Party to Quit House

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Headlines: Peace Corps Headlines - 2002: 09 September 2002 Peace Corps Headlines: September 20, 2002 - New York Times: RPCV Congressman Tony Hall Puts Dream Job Over Party to Quit House

By Admin1 (admin) on Monday, October 14, 2002 - 12:30 pm: Edit Post

RPCV Congressman Tony Hall Puts Dream Job Over Party to Quit House

Read and comment on this story from the New York Times on RPCV Congressman Tony Hall who will go to Rome as the United States ambassador to United Nations food and agriculture agencies. The move will open the seat he has held for 24 years representing a politically volatile district in and around Dayton. Read the story at:

Democrat Puts Dream Job Over Party to Quit House*

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Democrat Puts Dream Job Over Party to Quit House


WASHINGTON, Sept. 20 Faced with the choice of accepting his dream job under a Republican president or remaining in Congress to try to help the Democrats take back control of the House, Representative Tony P. Hall of Ohio said he never gave a thought to partisan concerns.

"I took the new position; didn't have to think about it for a minute," Mr. Hall said.

At the end of the month, Mr. Hall, a longtime advocate for the hungry, will go to Rome as the United States ambassador to United Nations food and agriculture agencies. The move will open the seat he has held for 24 years representing a politically volatile district in and around Dayton.

Mr. Hall laughed at the suggestion that Karl Rove, President Bush's political chief, orchestrated his appointment to create an open seat so a well-financed Republican could win, helping to keep the Democrats in the minority.

"I'd feel bad, sure, if the Democrats lost my seat and it made the difference for the Republicans to keep control, but that's not going to happen," Mr. Hall said.

But in an election year everything follows some political calculation, even the appointment of Mr. Hall, 60, with his record as one of Congress's leading champions for the hungry.

He has traveled around the country and the world to call attention to hunger. He helped found the Select Committee on Hunger in Congress and was its chairman for five years before it was abolished in 1993. He pushed his colleagues to expand food stamps and voted against the 1996 welfare overhaul because, he said, it was too severe.

His first trip in Africa, to help with famine relief in Ethiopia in 1984, focused him on hunger.

"The first day I was with a doctor who explained that his job was to decide which children to pick to live; the ones he didn't feed would die," Mr. Hall said. "I saw 30 children die within 30 minutes that day."

He went repeatedly to Africa and to Asia to help the hungry, making six trips to North Korea to ensure that the United States gave the country food aid without regard to who was responsible for the food shortages and starvation.

A born-again Christian, Mr. Hall was the leading Democratic supporter in the House of President Bush's proposal to finance religious charities, and he opposes abortion. He has long looked after the interests of his constituents, ensuring money for federal installations in southwest Ohio, including a former nuclear weapons plant and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. He supported the bombing campaign in Yugoslavia, saying it would ultimately help refugees, and he opposed the Persian Gulf war.

He said his became interested in world hunger when he was in the Peace Corps in Thailand and through his Bible study.

"It started in Thailand, when I had to start thinking beyond myself, and it continued with my faith," Mr. Hall said. "You can't read the Scriptures without being struck that over 2,500 verses deal with the sick, the hungry, the orphans."

An attraction of his new post, Mr. Hall said, is that it will allow him to take his faith to his work through food aid rather than "shoving it down people's throats like a religious nut."

His mix of policies served Mr. Hall well in his district, the Third, and he routinely won large majorities in his re-election campaigns. His resignation will leave the seat empty until the new Congress takes office in January.

Now that the seat is open, political professionals say, this swing district is leaning toward the Republican candidate, Mike Turner, a former Dayton mayor. The Democratic candidate is Rick Carne, Mr. Hall's former chief of staff.

Officials at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee argue that Mr. Carne "is an impressive campaigner pledged to continue Tony Hall's work." But they admit that the Republican campaign chest is much larger, filled with the help of appearances by national figures, including Vice President Dick Cheney.

"Republicans typically outraise and outspend Democrats," Kim Rubey, the campaign committee's spokeswoman, said. "But Rick Carne will surprise a lot of people; Republicans have too much irrational exuberance about this particular race."

Steve Schmidt, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, disagreed. He said he had no doubt that Mr. Turner will win in November.

"Nobody considers this to be a competitive race," Mr. Schmidt said. "The fact that Tony Hall has gone off to be an ambassador has given us a real opportunity."

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