Ohioans have a strong senatorial candidate in Republican Rob Portman. His economic solutions - linking the Marcellus Shale boom with local universities and military installations, adjusting federal health care reform and his willingness to oppose removing an employee's right to a secret ballot in union organization attempts - make it easy to endorse his candidacy.
We endorse Portman over Democrat Lee Fisher and all of the other minor party and independent candidates in the race.
Fisher claims his role in creating Ohio's economic development strategy, in promoting Ohio's Third Frontier, in spearheading the state's accomplishments that resulted in prestigious Site Selection magazine recognition make him a viable candidate. He has been a dedicated public servant for many years, but he holds firm on his support of many of the national issues promoted by the Obama Administration that should be blocked or repealed.
Fisher's support of the federal health care program, the misnamed Employee Free Choice Act and letting some of the Bush Administration's tax cuts expire are enough to cause concern. We also think he is wrong in his approach to high speed rail initiatives in Ohio.
Portman and Fisher agree that "stimulus" money has been spent inappropriately in that not enough goes toward infrastructure that will enhance economic development.
Portman gets excited when he talks about the Marcellus Shale natural gas deposit. That enthusiasm could be critical for our area, which already has gained hundreds of manufacturing jobs as a result of the shale drilling boom and stands to gain thousands more.
Portman says he would work with U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Niles, who wants to refit military vehicles at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station to use natural gas power. Portman understands the potential for Marcellus to help stop U.S. dependence on foreign oil, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide a domestic source of energy for the nation's military.
Such support at the congressional level would aid local universities. Youngstown and Kent state universities are ready for research and development partnerships with the air station and the Camp Ravenna joint military training operation.
Portman's resume includes serving as a junior aid to George H.W. Bush, election to the House of Representatives where he served effectively on the Ways and Means Committee and appointment as President George W. Bush's budget director. He has an 8-1 fundraising advantage over Fisher, is being hailed in some circles as a future presidential candidate, and even took four law enforcement union endorsements from Fisher, Ohio's former top law enforcement officer.
Here are some Fisher shortcomings:
* Though he does not want to pass the Employee Free Choice Act in its current form, he would support it even if a compromise was not reached. Portman opposes this anti-business legislation that would take a basic American right - the right to a secret ballot - away from employees when asked to decide whether they want a union in their workplace. It also would mandate government arbitration if the union and the company could not come to a labor agreement in a brief time.
* He wants to extend the Bush tax cuts one year for those making $250,000 to $1 million, then use their taxes to help pay down the deficit. Portman wants to extend the tax cuts for everybody for two years during which time he wants Congress to reform the tax code. Considering how many small business owners file their taxes as individuals and how deplorable the tax code is, we prefer the Portman plan.
* He calls the side deals and lack of transparency in the health care legislation "disgusting" and "disgraceful" but would have voted for it. Portman has specific ideas for amending the bill next year.
* He supports high speed rail for Ohio but is not wedded to the Cleveland-Columbus-Cincinnati corridor. Portman would reject high speed rail until more support data is available. The rail plan as it stands is unlikely to work because it's not truly high speed, so we prefer more research before spending so much money.
At this time, it is important that Congress slow down the move to socialism and start to rebuild the economy through business growth, which in turn means job growth. Portman is the best candidate in this race to help do that.