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Will Anti-Nuker John Hall Rock The Congress?

Will Anti-Nuker John Hall Rock The Congress?

by Harvey Wasserman
September 15, 2006

Rock Star and long-time environmental activist John Hall just won the Democratic primary in an upstate New York district that hosts what could be the world's most catastrophic nuclear plant. He wants it shut, and may soon be in Congress working to do just that.

Hall was a mainstay of the group Orleans. His name is on such well-known hits as "Dance with Me" and "Still the One." When George W. Bush used "Still the One" at GOP rallies in 2004, Hall made him stop.

Now, Hall may be in place to help stop Indian Point, the reactor complex in the 19th Congressional District north of New York City. Indian Point is now best known as the plant that could have been hit on September 11, 2001. The first jet that flew into the World Trade Center flew directly over the two operating reactors there, and could have done apocalyptic damage had it dived down one minute early.

Hall has worked for thirty years on just such issues. In 1979 he helped found Musicians United for Safe Energy, which brought some of the biggest names in rock to a series of Madison Square Garden benefit concerts meant to stop nuclear power. Among those performers were Bonnie Raitt and Jackson Browne, who have given Hall a boost in his campaign for the Congressional seat now held by an entrenched Republican incumbent named Sue Kelly.

Hall thinks he has a "great chance" to win. "I'm thrilled that we doubled the historic turnout in the primary election," he says. "I won half the vote in a 4-way race, with 20,000 people turning out." Hall nearly doubled the vote count of his nearest rival.

Hall says his membership in two musicians unions helped him more than being a rock star. He got pre-primary endorsements from the teachers union, service employees and the state AFL-CIO. Environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., also endorsed Hall, as did the Sierra Club and the Progressive Democrats of America.

"But the main thing," says Hall, "is that people are really ready for a change.

"I met dozens of Republicans who wanted to vote for me in the primary, but couldn't. People want a return to sanity, to checks and balances. They want health insurance for every man, woman and child. They want an energy policy based on renewables. They want a foreign policy based on peace and diplomacy first, with the use of force as a last option."

Hall says the Iraq war was the top issue in his campaign, and that his Republican opponent is running away from her party. "Her ads don't say 'Republican' on them, and they've purged the party name from her web site. She doesn't want the public to know she voted for war, for a trade policy that ships jobs overseas, for five consecutive tax breaks for people making more than a million dollars per year, for a medical plan that prevents government from negotiating price, providing a windfall for pharmaceutical companies."

Hall says Bush's No Child Left Behind program is a wrong-minded unfunded mandate, with 48 of the 50 states suing to get free of it. "My opponent's party has walked away from treaties negotiated by both parties for generations. It's declared itself exempt from the Geneva Convention, from the international tribunal at the Hague, from Kyoto, from the chemical and biological weapons treaty, and has abrogated the anti-ballistic missile treaty so it can build a non-working system for $120 billion.

"Do we want more families that thought they were in the middle class having to live in one house with four incomes, from two parents and working children who can't afford a house of their own because there are no more starter homes?"

"That's my opponent's record," says Hall. "Let's see her defend it."

Hall's opponent won her last re-election campaign handily. But more than 400 volunteers came out to work for Hall in the primary, and still more are likely to join in for the general election.

As part of MUSE, Hall co-authored the song "Power," an anthem to renewable energy. This fall that title may refer to the kind of energy that he could bring to Congress.


Harvey Wasserman was a co-founder, with John Hall, of Musicians United for Safe Energy. His HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES is a, and he is co-author, with Bob Fitrakis and Steve Rosenfeld, of WHAT HAPPENED IN OHIO? from The Free Press.

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