Our anonymous online commenters have been giving us a fair bit of feedback on these endorsement editorials. Considering how many seem to hate them, they'll be glad to know they're over. Then again, considering how much they comment on them, maybe they'll be sad. Oh, well.
Most newspapers endorse candidates, and the Enterprise has been doing it for decades, with a few years off from the late 1990s to 2004. But we also present extensive, detailed and fair coverage of the candidates by our reporters, who have no say in editorials. For instance, check out today's North Country Living breakdown of Assembly and Congress candidates' stances on major issues and the interview profiles of two candidates for Franklin County Legislature in the local news section. Look for the last county Legislature race profiles in Monday's paper.
Our editorial board members just couldn't come to consensus on the last three races: one for New York's 23rd Congressional District, one for a U.S. Senate seat and one for Franklin County Legislature's District 3, which includes the town of Brighton in our area.
What sways you on the House and Senate races is likely to be basic political ideology and/or a major wedge issue - perhaps the Bush tax cuts (Republicans would extend them for all; Democrats would exempt all but the wealthy) or the health care overhaul (Republicans would repeal; Democrats would keep). As we have said in prior editorials, we aren't taking a stance on these, but like an undecided swing voter, we look for other tipping points.
But on these two races, we just couldn't get ourselves off the fence.
Both Matt Doheny and Bill Owens have worked hard in this campaign, and both are personable, intelligent and knowledgeable. Both make a big point of traveling around this gigantic district and getting to know its communities. Both favor federal funds for broadband Internet, which we like, and a "rooftop highway" along U.S. Route 11, which we don't. Both favor nuclear plants in the district, which we're not entirely sure about. Both display the knowledge and support of farms and the military that 23rd District voters expect.
For every tipping point one way, we found a counterbalance point on the other side. If you're undecided, here are some some observations that, although they didn't ultimately sway us, might help you choose:
-While Rep. Owens is no slouch, Mr. Doheny gets the nod on energy. It made us ask him whether if his business ventures include a coffee company, but he doesn't even drink the stuff.
-Rep. Owens is more centrist, more on the right side of his party, while Mr. Doheny is more in the middle of his. Only one New York House Democrat broke with the party majority more often than Rep. Owens - Scott Murphy of the neighboring 20th District, with 93 and 91 percent rates, respectively, according to the Open Congress website. Mr. Doheny describes himself as being more conservative than former Rep. John McHugh, a moderate Republican who represented this district for 17 years until President Obama chose him as Army secretary.
-Rep. Owens is more circumspect and slower in making decisions. He tends to weigh both sides of an issue and try to "push it toward the middle."
-Rep. Owens views most issues as complex and doesn't expect simple, "silver bullet" solutions. That's realistic, but on the downside, it also leads him to arrive at complicated solutions. Mr. Doheny has more of a cut-through-the-fog mentality.
We also can't bring ourselves to endorse either Sen. Charles "Chuck" Schumer, the heavily favored Democratic incumbent of 12 years, or Jay Townsend, a little-known Republican challenger.
You probably know plenty about Sen. Schumer and not much about Mr. Townsend. We refer you to an Aug. 18 article on our interview with the latter, titled "Schumer challenger Townsend warns of U.S. following Europe."
We found Mr. Townsend to be patient, personable, thoughtful and reasonable. On the issues, he tends to be a conservative's conservative, so if that's you, he's your man.
Sen. Schumer knows upstate well. He may be a consummate New York City man, but he visits each of the state's 62 counties every year, and he comes here regularly, meeting with local officials. There tends to be a lot of schmoozing and photo ops, but there's also some legitimate listening. We vividly remember him showing up unannounced at a regular North Elba town board meeting in 2000 and fielding questions from the audience; that was impressive.
He has a tendency to grandstand, but hey, he's a pure politician. It's all he's done since he was first elected to the state Assembly at age 23. He genuinely loves the job, and he's talented at it.
He also does a great deal for New York's national influence, rising to become one of the nation's most powerful senators. Mr. Townsend points out that that hasn't brought much to New York money-wise - the state pays more in federal taxes than it receives in spending - but that's the nature of the Senate, in which a tiny state like Vermont has the same representation as a huge one like New York.
Mr. Townsend's background as a political consultant isn't all that inspiring, but it's something different. We're uncomfortable with the dynastic runs many U.S. senators have had. Maybe two six-year terms is enough.
Those are things to think about as you make your decision.
Franklin County District 3
Both Gordon Crossman and Bess Hanna live in Malone, so neither can claim to truly represent the south-end town of Brighton when the issues turn regional. But both are likable and care about the well-being of the county. Also, both know their stuff: Ms. Hanna has been attending county board meetings for a long time now, and Mr. Crossman has held the job for some time.
We would prefer a candidate from Brighton, or a redistricting that didn't let three of the seven legislators live in Malone. Given the facts on the ground, we don't have a preference; we think either Mr. Crossman or Ms. Hanna would do well.
Again, please vote Tuesday. Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. See our Voter Guide in Friday's paper for polling places, sample ballots and profiles of contested races. We hope we have given you enough information to make informed votes.