After conversations with candidates, careful consideration, and much deliberate discussion, The Times-Dispatch Editorial Board is pleased to share ideas about the Nov. 6 elections. We focus on the four contests most important to central Virginia: the races for U.S. Senate and three Richmond-area seats in the House of Representatives.
In a world gone nearly mad, Sen. Tim Kaine remains a voice of reason. He’s not always right but he is — except when running for vice president — almost always knowledgeable, persuasive, and respectful. He listens, a skill not mastered by all of his colleagues in the Senate. Kaine is a fierce partisan — which is just fine and frequently a sign of deeply held principles — whose temperament could make him a leader if Washington ever decides to conduct an experiment in expanding bipartisan compromise.
The senator is a natural-born legislator who seems to revel in the essential details of public policy creation. He is conversant in the art of the pretty good deal. We’d like to see him deploy his exceptionalism more aggressively in pursuit of a less imperfect union, especially in Congress. He’s displayed the necessary skills in his dogged pursuit of reforms to the most important process conducted by any national government — deciding when and if the country should go to war.
Kaine has served for nearly a quarter of a century as a Richmond city councilman and mayor, as lieutenant governor and governor, and since 2013 as a United States senator. We are happy to endorse his re-election. He has earned the trust of his constituents.
When Rep. Rob Wittman went to Washington in 2007, he was only two years removed from his tenure on the Westmoreland County Board of Supervisors. Amiable and able, Wittman appeared almost too affable to tangle with the hard cases that populate Congress. But he has more than held his own. From his seats on the House Armed Services and Natural Resources committees, he has developed the expertise to represent the interests of his eastern Virginia district famed for its waterways and rural beauty. Wittman, who drives almost every night from the Capitol to his home on the Northern Neck, is the ideal incumbent: skilled and informed, yet unsullied by the cynicism that infects too many of his colleagues. We enthusiastically endorse his re-election.
We also offer congratulations to challenger Vangie Williams for running a civil, energetic campaign. Her positive approach is admirable.
We don’t always agree with Rep. Donald McEachin‘s political positions, but we admire his legislative skills, which are refined, and his commitment to his constituents, which is beyond question. In his 17 years in the General Assembly, he emerged as a leader always attuned to the needs and struggles of the least among us. He is an advocate for those at risk — and an effective one. In his first term in the U.S. House, he has managed to help advance legislation that assists military spouses, intervened on behalf of residents suffering in substandard public housing, and sought bipartisan solutions to the food-desert challenge in many urban areas. McEachin is a talented and experienced legislator, and we heartily endorse his re-election.
His challenger, Ryan McAdams, is a different kind of Republican. A pastor who was once a social worker in Williamsburg, he is a passionate spokesman for expanding opportunity and freedom for all. He faces an uphill battle this year, but we hope he follows his calling to serve, perhaps by seeking a state or local office.
You would never know it from the television ads, but Virginia’s Seventh District is blessed with an abundance of able and impressive candidates. Libertarian Joe Walton is a former county supervisor who skillfully communicates his party’s “socially inclusive, fiscally responsible” message. Democrat Abigail Spanberger has built an impressive record of service to her country in law enforcement and in the CIA. She speaks persuasively of her hopes for a more effective and bipartisan Congress. She appears to possess the skills necessary to advance that objective. Spanberger is a gifted candidate and would make an able congresswoman.
Rep. Dave Brat has not, during his two terms in Congress, always been associated with bipartisan efforts. He has, however, been one of the most principled members of the U.S. House — an energetic original thinker who’s never afraid to speak truth to power. He brings much-needed economic sophistication and understanding to a national capital sorely deficient in both. He has been relentless in his efforts to educate constituents and colleagues about the rising national debt caused by too much federal spending. He was wise enough to grasp that faster growth will result from the Republican tax reform package he supported — and will be part of the long-term solution to America’s budgetary woes. His economic expertise and judgment give Brat the edge in a race that was a close call — and we are pleased to endorse his re-election.