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8th Dist. candidates back troop surge
By Russell Lissau | Daily Herald Staff

Joe Walsh


Maria Rodriguez


Dirk Beveridge


John Dawson


Chris Geissler


Greg Jacobs


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Published: 12/30/2009 2:15 PM | Updated: 1/18/2010 8:59 PM

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The Republicans running for Congress in the suburban 8th District support the planned U.S. troop surge in Afghanistan and most opposed President Obama's plan to start withdrawing troops in 2011.

One candidate says bringing troops home should be a priority, however.

Six Republicans will face off in the Feb. 2 primary election for the 8th District seat, which carries a 2-year term.

They are: Dirk Beveridge of Barrington; John Dawson of Barrington; Chris Geissler of Barrington; Greg Jacobs of Mundelein; Maria Rodriguez of Long Grove; and Joe Walsh of Winnetka.

Democrat Melissa Bean of Barrington is the incumbent and is seeking re-election.

The Republican candidates fielded questions about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and other subjects in a questionnaire for Daily Herald.

Earlier this month, President Obama announced 30,000 additional American troops would be headed to the Afghanistan war by next summer. He also called for an exit strategy that would begin in 2011.

Beveridge, a business owner who founded an organization that helps troops and their families, backs the planned surge. He opposes any sort of predetermined end date, however.

The U.S. must maintain a "strong, determined stand against terrorism" and needs to build upon the progress made by the surge strategy, Beveridge said.

Dawson, a business owner and former suburban school board member, criticized Obama for taking too long to make a decision about sending more troops to the Middle East. Dawson believes the president made the correct choice, though.

"However, you can't spell out your plan for an exit strategy at the same time you are sending in additional troops," Dawson said. "The Taliban and al-Qaida are wide enough to know that they are better off waiting until we start our troop withdrawal before going on any major offensives."

Future terrorist attacks on U.S. soil "will certainly occur" if American troops are pulled from the region prematurely, Dawson said.

Geissler, a manager with a consulting firm, said the U.S. needs to follow the timeline for withdrawal in Iraq. The U.S. strategy should focus on creating a stable Iraqi state that can handle its own security.

A stable government also is needed in Afghanistan, Geisler said. He accused Obama of "dithering" about the mission there.

"Although he's commanded a six-month deployment strategy, he could have made firm decisions sooner and given more time to prepare," Geissler said.

Jacobs, a retired Cook County sheriff's deputy and Vietnam War veteran, supports the surge but said bringing troops home "is a priority." He opposes the president's 2011 timeline and compared an early withdrawal to the U.S. military's invasion of Somalia in the 1990s, an effort generally considered unsuccessful.

Rodriguez, who is Long Grove's village president, said she applauded Obama's commitment to increasing troop levels in Afghanistan but said setting withdrawal dates "exhibits weakness to our enemies and encourages militants to doubt American resolve."

She called for Obama to reject artificial deadlines "that endanger American security."

Walsh, a venture capitalist, supports the surge and called military and political success in Afghanistan "vitally important." Withdrawing before achieving our goals in the region would further destabilize Pakistan "and risk the possibility of this nuclear-armed state (falling) under the control of Islamic extremists."

The 8th District includes parts of Cook, Lake and McHenry counties.

Bean is the only Democrat on the ballot. Green Party candidate Bill Scheurer is running, too.