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Rob Bishop

One candidate says America's economic woes could be improved if Congress pushed for more oil drilling and energy of all sorts. The other says the real key is to stop Congress from taking donations from big-money special interests and then doing them favors.

That is a key difference between Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, and Democrat Morgan Bowen in their answers to a Deseret News questionnaire on campaign issues. The entire questionnaire and answers are available at deseretnews.com.

When asked what Congress should do to help the economy, three-term incumbent Bishop said, "adopt a real, comprehensive energy policy," which would include pushing an "all-of-the-above energy bill" to encourage everything from more oil drilling to more natural gas, oil shale, nuclear, wind, solar and biomass energy.

He explained, "Energy development is one of the main vehicles that fuels our economy, it powers our factories, it enables our manufacturing, and it provides the resources and raw materials that are the backbone of our economy. Energy is a main way jobs can be created."

Bishop also said Congress could help the economy by passing "better tax policy, where we let Americans keep more of their own money and help businesses create good jobs."

Bowen, an LDS seminary teacher who once ran a family agriculture consulting business, said the root of current financial woes — which must be fixed — is that Congress did favors for big donors and then offered little oversight of their activities that led to the economic crash.

"We need a major turnover in the Congress so we can work to eliminate the corrupt system of PACs (political action committees), special interest groups, big money, and lobbyists who write the legislation for the members of Congress ... We must reform Washington. We must start by changing who represents us in Congress," he wrote.

Bowen also said the practice of some members of Congress "earmarking" federal spending for pet projects has turned Congress into an ATM machine for big donors.

"In general I feel that earmarks are being used for a corrupt system of influence peddling in our Congress. Rob Bishop, for example, has taken $15,000 from Es3 (Engineering and Software System Solutions) in campaign donations and turned around and wrote them a multi-million dollar earmark," he said.

On other issues, Bowen calls for America to withdraw from Iraq in 18 months, while Bishop says withdrawal should happen only "in a way that helps the stability and peace of that region," and that details "should be based on information and decisions of military leaders in the field, and not just on the wishes of politicians in Washington."

They also differ on a bill to prohibit EnergySolutions from importing to Utah radioactive waste from Italy. Bowen says he would support that and has criticized Bishop for not doing so while taking $28,000 in donations from EnergySolutions officials. Bishop said he prefers to let states, not the federal government, choose whether they wish to accept or ban such waste.

In another difference, Bowen supports fetal stem cell research to seek cures for such diseases as cancer and diabetes, but Bishop opposes it as long as it requires "destruction of existing human embryos."

Both candidates are anti-abortion, oppose same-sex marriage and support capital punishment. Both support efforts against illegal immigration, including beefing up border fences and hiring more border patrol agents.

E-mail: lee@desnews.com