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November 6, 2012 12:10 am



AFTER what seems like a near- eternity of persuasive efforts by partisans, Virginia voters in this region go to the polls today to help elect a president, a U.S. senator, and two members of the House of Representatives (as well as voting on an important property-rights amendment to the Virginia Constitution). Most of these candidates, no matter what your TV says, are honorable men who aim to serve the nation. But who among them is likely to perform that service better? In the judgment of The Free Lance-Star, these candidates merit your support:

For president--Barack Obama

Mr. Obama (D) took the reins of power as the nation was barreling toward the depths of the Great Recession, tugged at them determinedly, and saved it from full-fledged disaster. His stimulus package and his bailout of the domestic auto industry saved millions of jobs. An unemployment rate of 10 percent has fallen to 7.9 percent, while recent trends in home prices, consumer spending, and durable-goods purchases give further hope of recovery.

What's more, the much-maligned "Obamacare" means that up to 45 million of our uninsured countrymen will soon have some financial buffer against illness and injury.

In foreign affairs, the president pulled U.S. troops out of the imbroglio in Iraq and is winding down America's military efforts in Afghanistan. But withdrawal from these costly wars hardly signifies an empty-headed dovishness: Mr. Obama has also decimated the leadership of al-Qaida and, of course, put an end to the mortal misdeeds of Osama bin Laden. He has, as backers of his immediate predecessor liked to say, "kept us safe."

For U.S. Senate--Tim Kaine

Mr. Kaine (D) served as a Virginia governor during an unenviable period--the national and global downturn that forced on him and the General Assembly hard budgetary choices. He governed practicably, accepting spending cuts that, while not always desirable, were necessary for Virginia to keep its fiscal house in order and retain its business-drawing power.

That the commonwealth's jobless rate is the 12th lowest in the nation is in no small part due to his governorship. Moreover, he worked well with the other party in making ends meet--a virtue that's in short supply in Washington.

Mr. Kaine's idea of making the United States "a talent economy," drawing the world's brightest to these shores and allowing them to thrive in an atmosphere of economic liberty, is a plausible formula for American resurgence. It's worked for Singapore; it should work for us.

For House of Representatives (1st District)--Rob Wittman

Mr. Wittman (R) has served at every level of government--local (Montross Town Council), state (Westmoreland County Board of Supervisors), and federal (Congress since 2008)--which gives him a thorough understanding of his constituents and how decisions made inside the Beltway affect farmers and fishermen, businesspeople and pensioners, police officers and firefighters. This experiential capital is hard to replace.

Though a reliable Republican vote in most cases, Mr. Wittman, an environmental scientist, has parted ways with his more doctrinaire peers on the environment; his voting record shows an appreciation, for example, of the fragile ecology of the Chesapeake Bay.

A word on Mr. Wittman's opponent, Adam Cook (D). He is an Air Force Reserve major who is smart and up on the issues. He has something to offer the citizenry and should stay in politics regardless of today's verdict.

For House of Representatives (7th District)--Eric Cantor

As House majority leader, Mr. Cantor (R) has often been President Obama's nemesis in Washington. But he understands that the country is sick and tired of gridlock, and he seems ready to compromise, within conscionable limits, for the greater good. On the evidence of six elections to the lower house, he also represents the will of most of his constituents, a fact not to be despised in representative politics.

Finally, The Free Lance-Star urges a "yes" vote on Ballot Question 1, which concerns the state's power of eminent domain. Passage of this question would permit an amendment to the Virginia Constitution that would prohibit public bodies from condemning private property for some "higher use." This is a chance to positively safeguard your home or business from the machinations of developers and government officials. Don't pass it by.

Copyright 2014 The Free Lance-Star Publishing Company.