Friday, July 14, 2006

Chattanooga Free Times Press Gives Congressman Ford Ringing Endorsement

The following is a letter from the Chattanooga Times Free Press, giving a detailed look at the candidacy of Congressman Ford and ends with an endorsement for his party's nomination:

Rep. Harold Ford Jr., D-Tenn., is one of five candidates vying for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate, hoping, ultimately, to fill the seat of retiring Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn. Of the five, Rep. Ford is the most experienced, the most thoughtful and the most attuned to national issues. We recommend him as the Democratic standard-bearer in what promises to be one of the nation's most hotly contested U.S. Senate races of the fall.

Rep. Ford, who has represented his West Tennessee district ably in the U.S. House since 1996, is a proven vote-getter. He's been returned to office four times by an average of 80 percent of the vote. The total is indicative of a wide appeal that transcends traditional party lines and voting patterns.

Rep. Ford's attention to detail and understanding of the often arcane ways of the legislative branch make him an effective legislator. Moreover, a calm demeanor and refreshing willingness to work across party lines without sacrificing his party's ideals have made him a formidable presence in Congress. Those qualities, buttressed by his keen intellect and thoughtful stances on key national issues, validate his Senate candidacy.

In a recent meeting with this newspaper's editorial board, Rep. Ford identified Iraq, immigration, health care, the energy shortage, the deficit and education as issues that must be resolved if citizens and the nation are to prosper. He is, of course, correct in that assessment, and his views on each are instructive.

Rep. Ford voted for the Iraq war resolution but recognizes that the administration's war policies have gone terribly awry. Even so, he's opposed to an immediate pullout. He prefers a more measured approach that explores new policies to protect U.S. interests and lives while allowing Iraqis to build their own future. That's not a perfect answer but reflects the realities of a nasty, politicized war that continues to sap both the strength and treasury of the nation.

His views on other pressing issues reflect a similar desire to focus on finding solutions rather than indulging in the finger-pointing that now passes for political debate in Congress. He would, for example, create incentives to improve vehicular fuel efficiency. He would couple them with increased research into the use of sun, wind, hydrogen and farm products as alternative sources of energy, rather than subsidize continued use of fossil fuel.

Rep. Ford favors a balanced budget, health care initiatives that expand rather than reduce access, education policies that provide federal funding to cover federal mandates and an immigration policy that strengthens border controls and provides penalties for employers who hire undocumented workers.

Generally, Rep. Ford's views reflect those of most centrist Democrats. The congressman rarely has deviated from that position during his public career. And while some Democrats might be troubled by his more conservative views on gun control, abortion, gay marriage and flag burning, he has been consistent on those issues as well. He's not changed long-held views to pander to a statewide electorate far more diverse than the voters in his congressional district.

Rep. Ford has only token opposition in the primary and is expected to win the nomination handily. His real test will come in the November general election. There he'll face the winner of a bruising and divisive three-man GOP primary. Whatever the matchup in the fall, Rep. Ford will be a strong candidate. His possible opponents concede as much.

Former Chattanooga Mayor Bob Corker has said, " ... he [Rep. Ford] will be a difficult candidate to beat." Ed Bryant has said, "Ford is formidable and should not be taken for granted." Both are correct.

Tennessee Democrats, for the first time in recent election cycles, have the opportunity to nominate a strong, politically attractive candidate with a statewide constituency for U.S. Senate. We strongly endorse Rep. Ford for his party's nomination.

I think this article from the Chattanooga Times Free Press hits on some very good points.

The CTFP fully recognizes that Congressman Ford is a rare leader, built on principle, that will cross racial and partisan lines to do what is right for the people he represents.

As their description above notes, Ford is indeed a centrist Democrat who offers solutions to pressing issues, rather than empty platitudes and criticisms.

They end their analysis by giving Ford their full endorsement for the Democratic nomination, which says a lot as well.

I am confident that if every Tennessean gets to hear Congressman Ford speak on the issues, much the way the CTFP editorial board did, this race will not even be close.

He dedication to public service and his drive to getting things done the right way, shine through each and everytime he speaks.

He not only is the most capable man for the job, but he is right man for the job.

It is time we had a leader that all Tennesseans can rally behind and be proud to call their Senator.

Harold Ford Jr. is our man!