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November 2006

Special Dossier: Decision 5767
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Pennsylvania's 7th Congressional District
Special Dossier: Decision 5767

Voters Guide: Pennsylvania's 7th Congressional District
Curt Weldon vs. Joe Sestak.

-- Jeff Hauser

In Pennsylvania's 7th congressional district ten-term Republican incumbent Curt Weldon is seeking re-election. Rep. Weldon is the longest-serving Republican in Pennsylvania's congressional delegation, and is being challenged for his seat by Democrat Joe Sestak. Sestak was a career Naval Officer, who recently retired after 31 years of service after having achieved the distinguished rank of Vice Admiral.

Curt Weldon has been a staple in the 7th district for twenty years, but in many ways is facing his first truly competitive election this year. Sestak has proven to be a formidable campaigner, and has kept pace with the incumbent in terms of fundraising and cash-on-hand.

This election is one of clear contrasts, with the two candidates taking conflicting stances on many key issues, including the war in Iraq and abortion.

Here's some more information about how the two candidates stand on key issues of importance to the Jewish community.

  Joe Sestak (D. Challenger) Curt Weldon (R. Incumbent)Curt Weldon
  • Strong supporter of Israel.
  • Statement regarding recent crisis: ?Hezbollah and Hamas are responsible for this current crisis. They have pledged Israel's destruction and continue to take actions to that end."
  • Sestak also said, ?Israel is a sovereign nation that has a right to defend itself and respond to the terrorist threat."
  • From his website: "One of the primary reasons I entered this election is that I believe invading Iraq was not the right decision."
  • Read Sestak's complete position paper on Iraq and U.S. foreign policy.
  • Rep. Weldon has been an outspoken supporter of the War in Iraq and of Pres. Bush's foreign policy.
  • Read about Rep. Weldon's bizarre plot to uncover missing WMDs in Iraq.
Reproductive Freedom
  • Pro-choice: "Regardless of my religious beliefs, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Roe vs. Wade that --- as a nation --- the United States should offer every woman the right to have a legal and safe abortion, if that is her choice. I support that decision."
  • Rep. Weldon has consistently advocated a pro-life position during his years in Congress.
  • In fact, Rep. Weldon has voted with the National Right to Life Committee 94% of the time on key abortion legislation since 1999.


Stem Cell Research
  • Policy statement: "Stem cell research may mean that there is a potential cure for over 3,000 U.S. citizens who die each day from diseases such as Alzheimer?s, Parkinson?s, heart disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, and stroke, as well as serving as replacements for cells or tissues obliterated by radiation and chemotherapy in cancer patients. I support federal government promotion and funding of this research."
  • Rep. Weldon has a contradictory voting record on recent legislation dealing with stem cell research.
  • In May 2005, Rep. Weldon voted against H.R. 810, which sought to repeal federal restrictions on funding stem cell research.
  • However, when the bill came back to the House floor in July 2006 to attempt to override Pres. Bush's veto of the act, Rep. Weldon voted in favor of the bill, leading some critics to speculate that the switch was based on political strategy, rather than ideological beliefs. 
  • See MSNBC article.
Separation of Church and State
  • Excerpt from an interview: "I believe in the separation of church and state. For example, I disagree with Curt Weldon, who voted for a defense bill back on May 11 that would allow chaplains to pray in the name of Jesus at public military ceremonies. I believe chaplains should have the freedom to invoke God at these occasions, but should do so in a non-sectarian way."
  • More: "Do I believe that religion is an important value? Absolutely. I learned the value of belief in God as grew up in my family, but I also learned that I cannot impose my religious beliefs on others."


  • Rep. Weldon has voted against NJDC recommendations on every key piece of legislation dealing with the separation of church and state since 1999.
  • This includes votes allowing federally-funded religious groups to practice discrimination in their hiring practices; a vote against H.R. 2863 amdt. 328, which sought to end proselytizing and religious discrimination at the U.S. Air Force Academy; and a vote to allow religious organizations to take part in partisan political activities and retain their tax-free status.
  • Weldon voted in favor of a 1998 constitutional amendment in support of school prayer.
  • In addition, Rep. Weldon voted in favor of government intervention in the Terri Schiavo case, and also voted in favor of a proposed constitutional amendment seeking to ban same sex marriages in the U.S.
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