Congress Needs Changing

Whom do you trust to fix the problems facing the federal government: the Republican members of Congress who, backing President Bush’s every hair-brained move, led the U.S. into the dead end in which he find ourselves? It’s difficult to imagine how intell

Whom do you trust to fix the problems facing the federal government, from the financial meltdown to the disastrous wars in the Middle East to rehabilitating America’s standing in the world to reforming health care to charting an energy course for both the short term and the long term? The Republican members of Congress who, backing President Bush’s every hair-brained move, led the U.S. into the dead end in which he find ourselves?

It’s difficult to imagine how intelligent people could decide to re-elect incumbents who caused the very problems we need to fix. Especially given that Republicans will continue in the minority in both the House and Senate after this election — likely in even greater minorities.

With the hoped-for election of Barack Obama as president (see last week's endorsement, "Obama for President") and increased Democratic control of Congress, we expect 1) attention to pressing problems of the day in an organized and equitable manner and 2) implementation of progressive ideas like health care reform, alternative energy plans and a drawdown of troops from the Middle East.

We also expect zero innovative or helpful suggestions from incumbent Republicans. Why allow them to continue taking up valuable space in Congress when motivated local Democrats are ready to help change and improve this country?

Dump the incumbents pronto!

U.S. Congress, Ohio 1st District: Steve Driehaus
Steve Driehaus has completed the maximum four terms as State Representative for District 31 on the West Side and comes from a well-known family of Democratic activists (his sister Denise is running for the District 31 seat this fall). He’s accomplished quite a bit in Columbus — most recently serving as House Minority Whip — and now takes on Rep. Steve Chabot, who has successfully defended his seat against well-known city-based challengers over the years.

Driehaus’ actions in the Ohio legislature to bring attention to rampant home foreclosures and to focus tax cuts on the middle class — as well as his promises to fight privatization of Social Security, to bring the troops home from Iraq, to provide better health care and education benefits to veterans and to invest more in public education — match well the mood of the country and the 1st District. Chabot is out of touch with the changing political landscape and would offer little more than “No” when we desperately need “Yes, we can.”

President Bush and his Congressional allies have brought down this country, and now payback is hell. Driehaus is a no-brainer here: He’s experienced, progressive, well-known in both the city and the western suburbs and ready to become a leader of the next generation in Congress.

For God’s sake elect Driehaus on Nov. 4.

U.S. Congress, Ohio 2nd District: Victoria Wulsin
The matchup of Democrat Victoria Wulsin and Rep. Jean Schmidt, a Republican, is a replay of 2006, when Schmidt narrowly won the heavily Republican district. No Democrat has been elected in the 2nd District since 1964.

Schmidt has done little in the current term to mollify her critics, who contend she simply votes with the Bush administration and party leaders and offers no ideas of her own. Wulsin practically started running again for this seat the day after she lost two years ago.

Unfortunately, we’ve wasted another two years without Wulsin representing this district in Congress. The Indian Hill doctor’s expertise in health care issues, of course, bodes well for a role she could have in shaping Obama’s reforms in the coming years, particularly when it comes to reducing drug costs and focusing on preventative care, two of her key issues.

Wulsin gets the nod over independent candidate David Krikorian, who has impressed with his outsider focus on campaign finance reform, smaller government and lower taxes. She will step in and make an immediate impact in Washington, D.C.

U.S. Congress, Kentucky 4th District: Michael Kelley
Rep. Geoff Davis is seeking his third term representing Northern Kentucky, and like his fellow Republican incumbents across the Ohio River he should be voted out of office. In a district that elected a Democrat in recent times — albeit conservative Democrat Ken Lucas — and given the current Democratic surge across the nation, Davis should be facing a strong challenger in this race.

Instead, Michael Kelley MD, who runs a family medical practice in Crestwood, is waging a low-budget and thus low-impact campaign as the Democratic candidate. His background in the medical field (similar to Victoria Wulsin) give him a leg up on one of this election’s key issues, enacting health care reform in the next Congress, but otherwise he’s a political neophyte in a very Republican district.

Given Kelley’s limited resources and experience, we were inclined to offer no endorsement in this race at first. But after learning that Davis launched an anti-Kelley Web site to ridicule his background and values and then refused to debate Kelley, thinking he was entitled to the 4th District seat without any questions asked, we changed our minds.

The only thing Geoff Davis is entitled to is a kick in the ass.

U.S. Senate, Kentucky: Bruce Lunsford
Northern Kentucky native Bruce Lunsford is taking on one of the lions of Republican Party leadership, Sen. Mitch McConnell, who has come to symbolize the party’s failures over the past eight years. As one of the key legislators who dragged the U.S. into our current quagmires in the Middle East and with the economy, McConnell simply needs to go.

Lunsford is an entrepreneur who founded hospital management and other health care companies, created an investment firm to fund other Kentucky entrepreneurs, raised and raced thoroughbred horses and even started a film production company that’s had movies screened at the Sundance Film Festival. In the early 1980s he served in state government under Gov. John Y. Brown, first as Deputy Development Secretary and then as Legislative Liaison.

Lunsford ran for Kentucky governor last year but lost in the Democratic primary to eventual winner Steve Beshear. He also briefly ran for governor in 2003.

A former member of the National Guard and Army Reserves, Lunsford stakes much of his campaign on redeploying the U.S. military from Iraq to Afghanistan to secure nuclear stockpiles there and in Pakistan and on supporting the troops with proper equipment and planning. His years in the health care business provide real-world experience that should benefit the Democrats’ push for better health care coverage under a President Obama. The same can be said for how his experience as an entrepreneur should
benefit the new administration’s efforts to fix and grow the economy.

A Lunsford win in Kentucky not only removes the obstructionist McConnell but will go a long way to helping Obama and the Democratic Congress turn the country around on the economy, the Middle East, health care, alternative energy and other critical issues.

Ohio Attorney General: Richard Cordray
We weren’t supposed to be voting for this office this year, but then again Marc Dann wasn’t supposed to hire his no-good buddies from Youngstown to mismanage the Attorney General office and sexually harass their female employees. But he did, they did, a scandal ensued, he resigned in May.

This election will fill the remaining two years of Dann’s term, and the major candidates are current State Treasurer Richard Cordray, a Democrat, and former U.S Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio Mike Crites, a Republican. CityBeat endorses Cordray.

Cordray actually worked in the AG office in 1993-94 as the state’s first Solicitor General, who is appointed by the Attorney General to argue cases on the state’s behalf before the Ohio Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court. He eventually argued six cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Cordray ran unsuccessfully for Attorney General before, losing to Betty Montgomery in 1998. Lately he’s served as Franklin County Treasurer in Columbus and as Ohio Treasurer since winning that statewide race in 2006.

Republicans have tried to tie Cordray to Dann’s scandal, which has in fact tarnished all Democrats who took over state government two years ago, including Gov. Ted Strickland. But Strickland, Cordray and other party leaders quickly and decisively distanced themselves from Dann when his scandal broke, forcing him to resign and stamping out the perception of widespread corruption that had doomed the Taft administration before them.

Cordray already has made a name for himself as Treasurer, returning more than $1.3 million owed to the taxpayers, restoring an interest rate reduction program for small businesses and proposing a Veterans Bonus for Ohio troops. We hope he’ll accomplish as much in two years as Attorney General ... and perhaps beyond.

More Endorsements
CityBeat will offer endorsements for more local races and for ballot issues next week, when we’ll publish our everuseful “Who’s Endorsing Whom” charts summarizing all endorsements from political parties, the media and local organizations. Check out related coverage of the Hamilton County Commission campaigns on page 13 and the Obama campaign’s efforts in suburban Cincinnati on page 19. Joe Wessels’ column returns to this space in the issue of Nov. 5.

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