The Times’ endorsements, 2014: U.S. Congress

CongEndorse2014For the first time in the history of The Times, we plan to make formal endorsements of candidates, kicking off today with the Congressional races in Chester County. Tomorrow, we’ll feature our endorsements for State Representative and on Sunday, state Senate and Governor. We appreciate your feedback in making these first-even endorsements.

16th Congressional District: Tom Houghton, Democrat

While we certainly salute U.S. Rep. Joe Pitts’ long public service in both in Congress and the state legislature, it seems apparent that the long-time public servant has become increasingly out of step with his generally socially moderate, fiscally conservative district.

Whether it is his tough stance on immigration — a sore point both among the local Latino population, as well as the local mushroom growing industry — his seeming lack of a position on the proposed pipeline in western Lancaster County (although his having apparently taken some $15,000 in campaign donations from Williams in the last decade, the company that wants to build it, is telling), his opposition to the Farm Bill and countless other issues have demonstrated extremely conservative positions that appear to match only a small minority of local voters.

Houghton, an avowed populist, would be an activist representative — albeit one who would need to be aware that a number of his positions are somewhat more liberal than those held by much of the district and moderate accordingly. He does seem to have an understanding of this fact, having spent much of his campaign talking about agriculture, helping family farms and the pipeline, two areas with fairly broad, bipartisan agreement across the district.

Without some change, Congress cannot get beyond its current gridlock. We think that sending Tom Houghton — who has experience working across the aisle as a minority party legislator — to Washington, D.C. could help that process.


7th Congressional District: Pat Meehan, Republican

It was hard to know what to expect from Pat Meehan when he replaced Democrat Joe Sestak in this very purple congressional district, albeit one that thanks to abject gerrymandering (which frankly, is about a 1000 times more fraudulent than the minor fraud issues cited as the reasons behind recent VoterID legislation) is now a little bit more GOP friendly. Still, in the shadow of Philadelphia and snaking (literally) through Delaware, Chester, Montgomery, Berks and Lancaster counties, it is a politically moderate district, and Meehan has smartly stuck to the middle ground on most issues.

He was one of the cooler Republican heads when it came to the government shut down and has smartly worked to be reasonably bipartisan, although there were a couple of head-scratching votes, such his yes vote on suing President Barack Obama — a blatantly silly and partisan exercise with little merit.

While Democrat Mary Ellen Balchunis is a thoughtful candidate with much to say on a wide range of issues, her lack of hands-on experience in government is problematic. The current Congress is probably not a place for someone with so little public or practical political experience. An additional issue: many of her positions are probably to the left of those held by a majority of the district.

While we’d like to see Meehan more engaged in Chester County, generally speaking, he’s been a representative voice of the people of the 7th District in Congress and merits a return in 2015.


6th Congressional District: Ryan Costello, Republican

Republican Ryan Costello, a fast-rising star of Chester County politics, has a strong record of working across the aisle with Democrats in his time as a Chester County Commissioner — his term on the board has been among the most effective and harmonious in recent history (in fairness, a tribute to Democrat Kathi Cozzone, and Republican Terence Farrell as well).

Costello has shown himself to be a pragmatist with the moderate views that match the voters of Chester County and the 6th District and likely will be an more effective legislator than retiring U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach.

Democrat Manan Trivedi — a medical doctor by profession — has run three times for this seat and lost twice. While we certainly appreciate his perseverance, it appears that he has not particularly connected with the votes of the district. Clearly, he’d be a strong voice for continued health care reform — but it seems like his skill set in terms of both politics and governance isn’t quite as solid as Costello’s.

At the end of the day, we feel that Ryan Costello will be the most effective and visible advocate for the voters of Chester County and we endorse his election to Congress.

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One Comment

  1. Carol Catanese says:

    I fail to understand how endorsing a candidate who doesn’t meet the mark when it comes to sound legislative votes, is someone to endorse. Not only did he vote to sue the president, he has voted to defund the Affordable Health Care Act (aka Obama Care), he has supported every anti-climate change legislation meant to protect the environment, and appears to deny the existence of climate change.
    Is this who we want to represent us in Congress? And your reference about lack of experience because “The current Congress is probably not a place for someone with so little public or practical political experience,” is ludicrous. The last type of representative we need is an obstructionist congress person, which is exactly what we have with Patrick Meehan. Nothing has been accomplished during his time in office because he, and others like him, have been unwilling to compromise.
    Mary Ellen Balchunus is the only choice for reasonable voice in the 7th Congressional District.

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