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Published: Saturday, 10/2/2010

Re-elect Kaptur, Latta

During her 28 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, Democrat Marcy Kaptur of Toledo has consistently delivered for her constituents in the 9th Congressional District. The seniority and influence Representative Kaptur has amassed will remain critically important to the district, whether or not her party retains control of the House in this year's election.

District voters would be ill advised to throw away these advantages even if Miss Kaptur faced a highly credible opponent this year. Since she does not, the case for re-electing MARCY KAPTUR is compelling.

This term, Miss Kaptur has provided a reliable voice — and crucial votes — on such important issues to her district as the government-aided recovery of General Motors and Chrysler, help for unemployed workers and small businesses, broader access to affordable health care, reform of Wall Street excesses, and development of national and regional alternative-energy industries.

Even her ideological opponents concede that she works hard and well at local constituent service in a district that sprawls across Lucas, Ottawa, Erie, and Lorain counties. She works equally hard in Washington; throughout her career, she has maintained a 96 percent rate of participation in House roll-call votes.

Representative Kaptur’s Republican challenger, political neophyte Rich Iott of Monclova Township, has based much of his campaign on attacking the incumbent’s use of earmarks — spending items she places in the federal budget to benefit specific projects and programs, generally in the 9th District. We’ve made clear that we’re uncomfortable when Ms. Kaptur accepts campaign contributions from beneficiaries of earmarks.

But there is nothing illegal or unethical about earmarks, and Miss Kaptur is hardly the only lawmaker — of either party — who pursues them aggressively. Her advocacy has brought and is bringing to Toledo such tangible benefits as the Veterans Glass City Skyway, an Air National Guard unit, a new veterans’ health clinic, and a public-private partnership on a$25 million biofuels refinery.

If Miss Kaptur is re-elected, she will be the second-ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, which oversees federal spending. That position would give her the ability to do even more for the 9th District — influence that a freshman lawmaker could not hope to match.

By contrast, Mr. Iott brings little to the contest other than an expensive and largely self-bankrolled campaign and a list of Republican clich s masquerading as issue positions.

The Kaptur campaign’s assertion that Mr. Iott drove Seaway Food Town “into the ground” when he was the company’s chief executive officer is unfounded. But the closing of local Food Town supermarkets and Pharm drugstores after Mr. Iott sold the company destroyed 5,000 jobs. That reality at least undermines his claim to be a “job creator.”

Mr. Iott’s campaign declined an invitation to meet with The Blade’s editorial board. But his public pronouncements, far from building a case that he would represent the 9th District better than Miss Kaptur, have done just the opposite.

During a Blade-sponsored debate last week, Mr. Iott refused to say whether he would vote, as a member of Congress, to renew the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — one of the most vital pieces of bipartisan legislation in U.S. history. His fumbling response was more suited to a Tea Party extremist than a serious candidate for public office. His subsequent efforts to explain away his gaffe merely reinforced the impression that he is in over his head.

On an absolute as well as a comparative basis, the choice in the 9th District is clear. The Blade strongly recommends the re-election of Rep. MARCY KAPTUR.

• In contrast to the lively campaign in the 9th District, the general-election contest in the 5th Congressional District has been virtually invisible. The heavily Republican district crosses 16 northwest and north-central Ohio counties, including Wood County and part of Lucas County.

GOP incumbent BOB LATTA of Bowling Green is seeking his second full term. Mr. Latta’s opposition to the new health-care reform law, his fiscal conservatism, and his skepticism about government regulation appear to align with the positions of most district voters. He also has a good record of constituent service.

His challengers, Democrat Caleb Finkenbiner of Defiance and Libertarian Brian Smith of Bowling Green, have not made persuasive cases — or much of a case at all — for unseating the incumbent. The Blade recommends BOB LATTA’s re-election.



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