Cong. OH-13th: Sawyer (D) Endorsed by Cleveland Plain Dealer
Today the Cleveland Plain Dealer endorsed former Congressman Tom Sawyer (D-Akron) in the crowded 13th Congressional District Democratic primary. Because of the location and ungainly shape of the district, winding from Lake Erie through eastern Lorain, northern Medina, southern Cuyahoga and western Summit counties, the Plain Dealer's imprimatur must compete for influence with other newspapers such as the Lorain Morning Journal and the Akron Beacon-Journal. Nevertheless, this endorsement must be viewed as a significant boost for Sawyer.
There's one aspect of the endorsement editorial that strikes me as downright bizarre. The editors begin by dismissing former Cleveland City Council members Norbert G. Dennerll (D-Westlake) and Gary J. Kucinich (D-Strongsville) as "dubious candidates." I can understand this appellation for Dennerll, who has lost a half dozen elections since his Council service. Kucinich, however, is dinged for "sounding like his sibling's political echo," referring to Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Cleveland) of the neighboring 10th Congressional District. The Plain Dealer regards the positions of the brothers Kucinich (on the Iraq Debacle and international trade specifically) as "considerably to the left not only of the district, but most of the Democratic Party as well." I'm sorry, but that is plainly an absurd premise for dismissing Gary Kucinich out of hand. His brother has won election after election in the district next door, espousing the same positions, so clearly Gary Kucinich's point of view does not disqualify him in the 13th District, no matter how unpalatable it may be to the editorial board.
Having dispensed with Dennerrll and Kucinich, the editors briefly describe the remaining candidates other than Sawyer, and are uniformly complimentary in each instance except one. Attorney John L. Wolfe (D-Akron) has taught at Akron University, done legal work for several county governments, and "wants to restore Northeast Ohio's greatness by encouraging entrepreneurship." Labor lawyer and former State Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Barberton) "says her top priorities are the rights of the working class, quality health care for all and good jobs." Mayor Michael Lyons (D-Richfield) emphasizes a "single-payer health insurance program and a strong regional approach to economic development." Mayor Bill Grace (D-Elyria) "says job creation must be the major focus of whoever gets the nod." As to shopping mall heiress Capri Cafaro (D-Sheffield Village), however, the editors offset her positive qualities of being "obviously bright, well-educated and informed on the issues" with the ominous prediction that she is "open to accusations of carpetbagging and attempting to buy a seat half a state away from her hometown."
When they finally get to Sawyer, the editors are apparently exhausted because they muster only faint praise. A former teacher and Akron mayor who served in Congress for 16 years, Sawyer is "the candidate we think would best serve Democrats' interests as their nominee" despite having been "turned out by the labor interests whose concerns he so long had represented" after voting for NAFTA. The editors continue by noting that "no one in this race is more knowledgeable about the issues or the workings of the House," and then comes this strange twist:
"Sawyer left a record of cooperation with Republicans even in the days when Democrats were the House majority. If Sawyer were to win and, as appears possible, the GOP were to retain control of that chamber come fall, it would be good for the region to have a representative who can work across the aisle."Huh??? Vote for Sawyer because he was bipartisan back when that was a legitimate possibility? If there is anything that the current Republican Congressional leadership has made perfectly clear, it is that they have no interest at all in compromise or bipartisan governance. That leadership not only will not compromise, they won't even listen to opposing points of view. Their method is to draft their 1000-page bills with lobbyists' input in secret, and then not even show the bills to the Democrats before ramming them through along party lines in late-night, held-open votes. So let us not hear praise of any Democrat's ability to "work in a bipartisan way" with Republicans, because that is not relevant. Let's hear of their ability to stand up to Republicans and speak the truth with conviction. Let's hear of their passion for the principles that Democrats stand for, and Republicans jeer, like ethics and accountability, fiscal solvency, freedom from government intrusion in our personal lives, and caring for the common person. Bipartisanship, indeed.