Sunday, October 29, 2006

The two major party candidates are both eminently qualified for the job.

this is actually quite funny as the news leader points out how much the majority party candidates are alike, then they turn around an endorse the lessor of the two evils.

Tom Martz
candidate for the 139th

Talent is right choice for Senate

For all the negativity and outside national interest obscuring Missouri's race for U.S. Senate, one fundamental truth stands out to us.

Election 2006 Online Resource Guide
Republican Jim Talent has had a distinguished career as a state legislator, a member of Congress, an educator and lobbyist and, for the past four years, a U.S. senator.

Democrat Claire McCaskill, too, has risen from the ranks as a state legislator, a county prosecutor and state auditor. We endorsed her when she ran for governor two years ago because of the experience she would have brought to the job.

We endorsed Talent when he ran for Senate for the same reason.

So who do we choose this time?

Our choice is Talent.

We think he's a better fit for the job. We believe he's done nothing in the past four years to disqualify him from our continued support. And we believe his views are most in line with southwest Missouri voters.

The campaign

Make no mistake, this is a neck and neck race. In meeting with both candidates and analyzing their debate performance, we found plenty to like and dislike about both Talent and McCaskill. What we didn't like about the campaign is that because it became such a national race, with outside money pouring into Missouri by the millions, we believe two good people lost touch with some of the values that made them successful in Missouri politics.

McCaskill embarrassed herself with her statement about President George W. Bush letting the victims of Hurricane Katrina die because they were poor and black. Talent hit below the belt with an advertisement that called his opponent a liar and a cheat.

We hear from voters that they're disgusted by such behavior. But in that regard, Missouri's race is not much different than other big-time races on a national stage, and negative campaigning isn't a voting issue in our minds.

The war

The reason this is such a close race is that when it comes to the big issues, there is much less separation between McCaskill and Talent than either candidate would like you to believe. (Some would suggest that's a reason to vote for Progressive Lydia Lewis or Libertarian Frank Gilmour. We don't think either is qualified for the job, but, to be fair, their views are in stark contrast to the principal two candidates). Let's start with the war. Talent voted for it, and McCaskill says she would have, too. Talent voted for the compromise torture/military tribunal bill, and McCaskill says she would have, too. Talent says he doesn't expect U.S. troops to be in Iraq four years from now; McCaskill says she wants them out in two, "give or take."

While many voters would like this election to be a referendum on the war, if it is, the primary difference between the two candidates is that Talent refuses to support a deadline for withdrawal and McCaskill does. On that issue, we think Talent has it right.

There's no doubt that the Bush administration has mishandled the war. On that, Republicans and Democrats agree. And Talent deserves criticism for voting in lock step with the president on this issue. But when asked about the future of the battle, both candidates argue similar points, that troops should be withdrawn at some point in the next couple of years. We agree that setting an arbitrary date is the wrong move militarily. We're confident that no matter who wins this race, pressure will build for Bush et al. to change course and develop a plan for getting our troops home safe.

Other issues

Looking at the other issues, the candidates also argue similar positions.

Both claim to be in favor of a fence at the Mexican border and tougher enforcement of illegal immigration laws, particularly against employers.

Both are in favor of ethanol subsidies, and, frankly, we disagree with them on that position.

Both claim to be fiscally conservative, and, again, we don't think either the Democrats or Republicans can make that claim anymore with a straight face.

On the issue of stem cell research, we find ourselves in disagreement with both of the candidates. We share Talent's disapproval of Amendment 2, though we have different reasons. And we think McCaskill is wrong to disregard the damage to Missouri's constitution the amendment will have if it passes.

One of their primary disagreements is over an issue that we highlighted the last time we endorsed Talent for Senate. He's a big proponent of health-care consortiums for small business. He continues to push that fight at the national level despite opposition from the Democratic Party. We believe such health-care consortiums have the potential to help turn the tide against the rising health-care premiums that hit all of our pocketbooks. That issue is important to southwest Missourians, and it helps tilt the race in Talent's favor.

The future

In the end, we think Talent's steady approach to the Senate is best for Missouri. What he lacks in McCaskill's passion he makes up for in his thoughtful approach to issues. Ultimately, we find both candidates to be moderate voices, but Talent has proven his ability to work with Democrats on key issues in his four years in the office.

We don't blame him for voting with his president anymore than we would blame McCaskill for voting with a Democratic president.

That's the nature of politics. But Talent has succeeded in being bipartisan on issues of importance to Missouri.

The nature of a difficult campaign has forced him to refine positions, and we have McCaskill to thank for that. It's why tough campaigns are better than no campaigns at all.

If Talent is re-elected, we hope he hears from the voters who want clear answers on the war, not more "stay the course" rhetoric. We hope he finds the votes he needs to pass a health-care consortium law.

Ultimately, this race is going to be a nail-biter come election night.

For voters who have yet to make up their minds, we suggest Talent is the best candidate for southwest Missouri.

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