Enter the Xuna Xone

You might not know Juan Xuna from Xanadu, but he should be your next congressman

OK, that alone will cause him big problems. You lose the Jewish vote, you suffer.

He's not coming from any religious slant, mind you. In fact, he's brave enough to openly run as an atheist (bye bye, Christians). He is calling to tighten immigration standards (liberals, farewell). And he's stumping to end the embargo on Castro (hasta la vista, Cubanos).

He believes strongly in the development of alternative and renewable energy sources. He supports steep oil and gas taxes to discourage consumption and believes in extensive national conservation and energy policies to free us from our dependence on the Arabs, help the world toward a path of peace, and clean up the environment (so much for an endorsement from big business).

Naturally, Xuna hasn't raised much money. In fact, he's received only three contributions, none from his district: A retired teacher from Miami gave him $200, a California "humanist" donated $100, and a Missouri atheist coughed up a $20 check.

So he has funded his campaign with about $25,000 of his own money. Although successful in business, Xuna, the father of three grown sons and a three-year-old daughter, is far from rich. So he and his second wife, Mona, are trying to sell her oil paintings on the Internet to raise more campaign funds. He recently held two auctions on E-bay but failed to unload a single piece. The money is running out, and he says he'll soon need to seek employment.

Compare this struggle to Shaw's efforts, which have raised $1.4 million, and he has spent nearly $25,000 of it on travel expenses and various reimbursements -- for his wife, Emilie. Shaw's campaign shelled out $58,617 for a Cheney fundraiser in April -- including $825 for flowers. It paid off, though, as Shaw pimped Cheney out for some $500,000 in one day. Welcome to big-time Republican politics. The only thing missing from his expenditure list is a $6000 shower curtain.

These things frustrate Xuna. Democracy isn't working. The newspapers virtually ignore him, and the routine political venues -- speeches to various groups and clubs -- are a waste of time. "I was hoping to do 20 or 30 debates, but there are no debates," he complains. "I receive invitations, and you have 30 people there, and you get two or three minutes to talk. What can you do in two minutes? Nothing. You are the first journalist to call me and ask about my positions.... It's money, only money. No issues. It is unbelievable."

Xuna is a thinker and a dreamer -- not a natural politician. He's keenly self-conscious about his accent and, though he is fluent in English (and three other languages), he thinks in Spanish, and his tongue can't always find the right translation. He's not what you'd call charismatic, and he wouldn't know a good sound bite if one bit him on the ass. He leaves the tricky rhetoric to the president, who constantly refers to his coming act of aggression as a way to "secure the peace" and plays on our fears to support his war.

"Since we are unable to get peace in the Middle East, [Bush] is trying to distract Americans to show that we are doing something," Xuna says. "Saddam Hussein is a danger to society, but going into a war with Iraq is extremely dangerous -- not only to our soldiers but to a lot of people in the Middle East. We have to clean up our act in the Middle East and not jump into a war."

He's the only local politician out there making that stand. And that's why he has my vote in November. If you oppose this war, he should get yours too.

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