July 28 2010 12:00 AM

Voters looking for a conservative Republican to challenge U.S. Rep. Mark Schauer, D-Battle Creek, in the fall are in a no-lose situation.

The three-candidate GOP field in the 7th Congressional District, which includes Delta Township and Eaton County, consists of Tim Walberg, Michigan’s most conservative member of Congress in 2007 and 2008; Brian Rooney, a former attorney for the Christian advocacy group the Thomas More Law Center; and Marvin Carlson, a businessman endorsed by a national "Tea Party-like" political action committee.

At a debate earlier this month at the Christian Family Centre in Adrian, each was asked 22 rapid-fire yes or no questions on key issues.

They differed on two.

They support the death penalty, eliminating the IRS, English as the country’s official language, offshore oil drilling, a federal affirmative action ban and abolition of the U.S. Education Department.

They’re against abortion, same-sex marriage, changing the Second Amendment and public "entitlements" to illegal immigrants and their offspring.

They think the United States needs to secure its border with a fence and military presence.

They don’t agree on whether to replace the U.S. income tax with
a Dick Armeystyle "flat tax" (which Rooney likes) or a larger sales
tax, known as the "fair tax" (which Walberg and Carlson like). Also, the
don’t agree on whether forced use of "socialists’ works" like those by
Howard Zinn should be banned under the 10th Amendment. Rooney said yes
but admitted that he didn’t understand the question. Carlson was a yes and Walberg was a no.

The differences among Carlson, Rooney and Walberg come in their style, background and personality.

59, served in the U.S. House in the 2007-08 term before he got knocked
out by the Barack Obama wave in 2008. A minister and former state
legislator, Walberg is making his fourth straight run for the
congressional seat.

Joe Wicks said Walberg voted against the Wall Street bailout and
proposed a private market-based health care reform bill that "Nancy
Pelosi didn’t want."

and Rooney each question W a l b e r g ’ s effectiveness. Carlson said
that as a state legislator, the only thing Walberg did was sponsor a law
that put strobe lights on the top of school buses.

said it’s difficult for a freshman member of Congress of the opposite
party to accomplish much, especially one with such deep differences from
the House speaker.

37, serves on the board of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ football team,
which his grandfather, Art Rooney, started. He served in the Iraqi War
as a Marine in such infamous "kill zones" as Fallujah and Najaf, after
which he worked for the Thomas More Law Center, which helps "defend the
same conservative philosophy he fought for in Iraq."

notes that Rooney distances himself from his family when it’s pointed
out that his uncle, Steelers President Dan Rooney, endorsed Obama, who
named him ambassador to Ireland.

points out that Rooney moved into the 7th Congressional District and
filed to run for Congress on the same day. "Tim is a neighbor or they
know him. They trust him," Wicks said.

called the attacks on his family "desperate" and "silly," and makes no
apologies that he comes to the race with different experiences.

also said he’s proud to have moved into the district when many people
are leaving the state because of what he called failed policies from the
current leadership.

65, is a former Ann Arbor real estate developer who refurbished the
Earle Hotel. While his opponents have lived off the taxpayer or family
fortunes, Carlson said he’s been making a business career. He received
the endorsement of the Republican Liberty Caucus, the closest thing to a
national Tea Party political action committee.

knock on the newcomer is that Tea Party types like Carlson could have
prevented two years of Schauer by being more active in his ’08
re-election campaign.

"I’m glad you’ve come to the Tea Party movement now but I sure could have used your help the last time around," Walberg said.

countered by saying he voted for Walberg in ’08. If Walberg wants to
blame someone for his 2008 loss, he should look in the mirror.