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Editor’s Note: This is the first in a two-part series featuring two candidates vying to represent Indiana’s 2nd Congressional District. Across the country, Republicans are challenging Democratic incumbents to gain control of the U.S. House of Representatives. The race for Indiana’s 2nd Congressional District is no different. Republican candidate Jackie Walorski is running against Democratic incumbent Joe Donnelly, who has held his position for the last four years. It has been highlighted in the media as one of the nation’s most contested races. Walorski told The Observer she would look to the University as a potential partner to her if she were elected. She specifically commended the University’s focus on research and said it would be an asset to the district she would serve. “The research dollars, the things that have happened in this place, not only produce a great community for us, but a great alum community around the world,” she said. Walorski previously worked as a local reporter, and she said this exposed her to various research initiatives that are now coming to life at the University. “Things that they were looking for are now a reality. So this is the paramount issue for me,” she said. Walorski said in terms of her economic platform, the country must control spending, which will especially impact recent college graduates in search for employment. She said her time serving the Indiana state legislature has prepared her to do it on a more broad level. “What we have done in these past six years is melted down our size of government, all aimed at protecting the taxpayer,” Walorski said. “That has to be done as a foundational measure at the federal government in order for [students] to have a job when they get out of here.” Walorski said she would propose the 2011 budget be frozen in order for the president to audit agencies and cut back on duplicative efforts. She said trimming bureaucracy would help the job market. “If we create a level of certainty at the federal level where they know there is not going to be mandates coming down, that the next shoe is going to drop, we will see a flexibility of the market where people are hiring,” Walorski said. In terms of recent health care reform, Walorski said one of the most popular aspects crossing party lines particularly applies to college students. “I think the issue of being able to carry kids until they are 26 is probably the most popular part of the whole program,” she said. “I have heard from Republicans and Democrats and Independents alike that because the job market is so tight they like the security of being able to carry college graduates until they are 26.” Walorski did say that despite that particular aspect of the health care bill, more steps are needed to control medical litigation and damages, otherwise known as tort reform. Walorski also said education represents an extremely important part of her political platform. She said one thing that needs to be changed is how much responsibility teachers are being charged with. “We are shoving an unbelievable burden on teachers because of the breakdown of the family [and] because of our culture changing,” Walorski said. “Teachers are responsible for, in many cases, the kids more than the parents are and they are responsible for an unbelievable amount of teaching, not just curriculum.” Walorski also said the No Child Left Behind Act has created problems in the educational system by complicating funding for schools, which is controlled by each state. She said rectifying this issue is extremely important. “The money needs to be driven into the classrooms, not the administrators,” Walorski said. Walorski also said she has taken a strong stance on the issue of abortion, which is of particular importance to the Notre Dame community, noting in the past she has worked to de-fund pro-choice institutions. “The battle that is raging, the reason that people are so angry, is because we are talking about a tax supported industry. I’ve stood up to Planned Parenthood to de-fund them,” she said. “I don’t believe we should force anyone who does not believe in it to pay for it.” On the issue of the United States’ military presence in the Middle East, Walorski said the safety of the troops and the decision making of military personnel should guide government decisions in respect to the area. “I think that one of the biggest mistakes that happens in this country is that we as adult voters have allowed this government to evolve into this thing where bureaucrats make military calls,” she said. “Military calls need to come from the generals on the ground that we trust the president to put there.” Walorski said she felt military presence in the area impacts the everyday safety of American citizens, and therefore is an issue that must be addressed in an appropriate manner. “The number one job of the president of the United States is to protect the United States of America from foreign invasion and threat of domestic assault inside,” she said. “I don’t see how you skirt that when you have generals on the ground saying we are still not able to walk away from Afghanistan.” Overall, Walorski said the progress of her campaign so far makes her confident for the results Nov. 2. She said the unique nature of her campaign has allowed her to communicate her platforms successfully. “I’m as blue collar as they come. I’m self funding, it’s a real grass-roots race,” she said. “We have done a good job of getting our message out.” Despite any political differences Walorski and Donnelly may hold, they do share a common devotion to the Fighting Irish football team. “I’m a Notre Dame fan, and very, very grateful that Kelly is here as a coach,” she said. The second part of this series will feature Democratic incumbent Joe Donnelly. It will run it tomorrow’s Observer.