"If anyone can present me with a more important issue, I'll be glad to talk about it," says Steven Larchuk.
Larchuk, running as the American Healthcare Party candidate for Melissa Hart's 4th district House seat, is a one-issue candidate and proud of it. The need for reform of the country's health-care system, he says, "is the one issue that touches every American. It sucks up a tremendous amount of our taxes and it's a complete mess. The two parties every two years campaign on reform and yet nothing happens."
Between Larchuk, Democratic nominee Stevan Drobac Jr., and incumbent Hart, this is a million-dollar race. Unfortunately for Larchuk, $992,000 of those campaign funds belong to Hart.
At least he lives in the district (in Beaver County's Independence Township), which encompasses Beaver and Lawrence counties as well as northern Allegheny County and bits of three others. The 49-year-old lawyer, who has represented both the health-care industry and, more recently, patients, had an even more unlikely rival in mind first -- U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter. (See News Briefs: "Universal Themes," April 7, 2004, www.pittsburghcitypaper.ws/archive.cfm?type=News%20Briefs&action=getComplete&ref=1894.) But the entry requirements for the smaller race proved easier, he says.
Larchuk is such a purist on the issue that he didn't attend a recent Downtown rally aimed at health-care reform -- it featured anti-war sentiments too. Yes, he'd vote on other issues in Congress, but says he's mainly happy to let other legislators worry about those. "One of the reasons we don't have health-care reform," he believes, "is politicians feel they have to take a stand on every issue."
How quixotic is this? Counters Larchuk: If he gets the votes of the uninsured, those who fear the loss of their job and insurance, and business people paying increasing costs to insure their employees -- well, that should be just about every vote in the district.