A green Republican makes a run


Physician Robin Silver of Phoenix is known as an uncompromising environmentalist. Most recently, he forced the federal government to list the Mexican spotted owl as "threatened," thereby stopping logging in the Southwest (HCN, 9/4/95). He has also fought against construction of a series of telescopes on Arizona's Mount Graham (HCN, 7/24/95).

So some Republicans may be surprised to find his name on the primary ballot. But they shouldn't be. Silver is a lifelong Republican and a fiscal conservative. He petitioned his way onto the ballot to test his theory that freshman Rep. John Shadegg's hostility to environmental regulation is out of step with the people who sent him to Congress.

Shadegg supported the salvage logging rider and opposes reform of the 1872 Mining Act. He also wants to weaken the Endangered Species Act and keep grazing fees low.

But Shadegg's 4th Congressional District is urban and suburban, containing parts of Scottsdale, Phoenix and Paradise Valley. No one has mined, ranched or logged there for at least a generation.

Silver says that Shadegg, who leads GOPAC, Newt Gingrich's political action committee, is voting to please his campaign contributors, not the people who elected him. "People like John Shadegg will never do what we need to do to balance the budget because he is so beholden to big business ... and to those who benefit from the continuation of tax loopholes and federal subsidies," says Silver. He hopes the many retired people or recent arrivals in his district want to see subsidies to the mining, logging and cattle industries cut.

But Shadegg says that just because his constituents are urban doesn't mean that he should abandon natural resource industries. In Phoenix they work in "offices (that) are built with construction materials logged in other places; they use minerals for the phone lines," says Shadegg.

Although spirited, Silver has three strikes against him: A small budget, little name-recognition, and a late entry into the race. Yet, if he can pull off the primary, he is almost guaranteed the seat. The 4th Congressional District is traditionally Republican.