The Minneapolis Star Tribune and Rochester Post Bulletin have joined the New Ulm Journal and Worthington Globe in endorsing Congressman Tim Walz for re-election to a fourth term. Meanwhile, the Mankato Free Press, the district's daily nearest to home for Walz and challenger Allen Quist, has reiterated its no endorsement policy.
In Tim Walz deserves a fourth term, the Star Tribune editorial board cites Walz's leadership on the STOCK Act, veterans and farm legislation as reasons for supporting the Mankato legislator. They conclude:
Walz, 48, is running against former Republican legislator and gubernatorial candidate Allen Quist. The Quist campaign's focus on the national debt rather than the divisive social issues he's known for is welcome. But Quist's unyielding positions on additional tax revenue or reforming Medicare or Social Security run counter to Simpson-Bowles and every other credible debt-reduction plan. He would impede a "grand bargain" to rein in red ink. Walz, in contrast, is a bridge-builder who would work to forge the best deal for the country.
The Post Bulletin is more generous to Quist--as is the board's tendency when spelling out endorsements--but endorses the incumbent in 1st Congressional District: Allen Quist vs. Tim Walz, noting at the editorial's close:
. . .Walz tempers his convictions with pragmatism, and on that basis, we're endorsing him for a fourth term representing Minnesota's First District.
During his six years in office, he's proven that he can make arguments about what should be done, but then move on to what can be done. His experience as a soldier, a high school teacher and a football coach have made him fully aware that theories and principles look good in field manuals, curriculum guides and playbooks, but reality is far different.
Allen Quist repeatedly refers to himself as "a numbers guy," and that's good as far as it goes, but government is more than a numbers game. Tim Walz knows the numbers, and his vision for the future includes a better national balance sheet, but he also wants to make sure that our veterans, indebted students, the hungry and the uninsured have a chance to enjoy some prosperity, too.
Not all of the district's dailies are endorsing. Mankato Free Press publisher Jim Santori eloquently lays out the case for a no-endorsement policy in Endorsements don’t fit with fairness objective, new media landscape. Read the whole post, but here's a taste:
Four years ago, we adopted the policy of no longer providing endorsements. . . .This year . . .Everyone is looking for an edge to their side and we’re getting challenged to take a side. We respectfully decline. . . .
I can’t speak for all newspapers, but I don’t think newspapers should be in the business of making kings — or telling people how they should think. Regardless of who is sitting in the seats of power, each should be held accountable to whom they represent, and that’s the job of news organizations.
An endorsement appears to give a seal of approval and taints the perception of readers of our true intent, regardless of how hard we work at fairness. . . .
We will . . .recount what issues we feel are important to this region and this state and raise questions we feel need to be addressed. . . .
This year, you also will decide for yourself on constitutional amendments. Our job is to provide as much information — and opinions — from all sides that we can so you can make an intelligent choice.
In a democracy, it is the people who decide how they want to be governed — not one individual, not a party, not a movement and certainly not a newspaper.
Veteran Free Press political reporter Mark Fischenich does just that--provide information--in a pair of articles covering Quist and Walz. Both articles are marked by Fischenich's able, understated writing which nonetheless catches nuance.
In Quist striving for biggest upset of his political career, Fischenich reports on Quist's career and issues, weaving information about both together in a long feature. On the Republican's obsession with the "marriage penalty":
In the 2012 race Quist also has emphasized a marriage penalty he identified in the health care reform commonly called Obamacare. Unmarried individuals making $30,000 each would, if their incomes were combined through marriage, lose thousands of dollars in federal subsidies for medical insurance, he said.
Supporters of the bill said the numbers are typical for income-based government subsidies, but Quist contends the provision is an intentional attempt by liberals to undermine the institution of marriage.
He called it a “hidden agenda” of Obamacare in speaking to a North Mankato audience in August: “And let me be very explicit, this is designed to destroy marriage for the middle class.”
In a recent interview, Quist was asked why Democrats would be motivated to destroy marriage. He said he wouldn’t speculate about their motives but remains convinced they are seeking to sabotage marriage.
“It was deliberate, and they had to know this would damage the family,” he said. “... The people that put the bill together knew you would get substantially fewer married people because you are penalizing marriage, and I find that to be horrific.”
Check out the whole article. Fischenich looks at the DFLer in Walz says he hopes to help restore faith in democracy:
. . .Grading Walz on the implementation of his agenda after three terms would probably show marks at both ends of the spectrum. On veterans issues, Walz has been successful enough to win him the highest honors bestowed by a variety of veterans groups. American troops have been withdrawn from Iraq. Federal economic stimulus bills included substantial middle-class tax cuts.
Walz this year passed — over the opposition of more than a few congressional heavyweights — the STOCK Act (Stop Trading On Congressional Knowledge). The bill prohibits lawmakers and their staffs from using inside information gleaned at the Capitol to enrich themselves on the stock market.
“I’m proud to run on my record,” Walz said. “It’s a very difficult environment right now to get anything done, but I’ve not shied away from what I think are fundamental things.”
As for the deficit ...
The raw numbers are ugly, something Walz’s Republican challenger Allen Quist has graphically displayed for months. . . .
“If you try to talk about how the problem started, they shut you off: ‘Oh No, that’s then. What about now?’” Walz said of his opponents. “You can’t solve any problem without understanding how it really started because that makes sure the solutions you’re putting into place don’t repeat those very same problems.”
Walz said he supports spending cuts and voted for a 2011 Democratic proposal to make $2.2 trillion in unspecified budget reductions.
He rejects the idea that the deficit can be eliminated solely through spending reductions, while also dismissing any suggestion that raising taxes on wealthy Americans will get the job done.
“Let me be very clear. That alone will not do it,” Walz said. “You’re not going to tax the top 2 percent and balance this budget. It has got to be a balanced approach.”
The paper also provides a sidebar article contrasting each candidate on major issues. Taken together, the three articles underscore Santori's points. Good stuff.
Photo: Congressman Tim Walz (above); Allen Quist (below).