For Harold in GOP race
The News-Gazette endorsed Erika Harold for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012 and we see no reason to change our minds in 2014.
When Republican U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis was finally declared the winner of an amazingly close U.S. House race in 2012, he had to know that running for re-election in the 13th Congressional District would be a challenge.
Having been named by Republican Party chairmen to fill the ballot spot vacated by retiring U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson, Davis ran in the general election without the benefit of having won the approval of GOP primary voters. This time, he's not only running in the primary but has a race on his hands in the form of two challengers, Champaign lawyer Erika Harold and libertarian veterinarian Michael Firsching of Moro.
This is Harold's second go-around with Davis. Like him, she competed in the slating process for the nod of party chairmen in 2012. Now she's taking her case to Republican voters in next week's primary election.
The News-Gazette endorsed Harold in 2012 because it was our opinion that she possesses the right ingredients not only to be a solid member of the U.S. House of Representatives, but of a political star in the making. We repeat our endorsement of her this year for the same reasons — her intelligence, commitment and solid grasp of the issues.
It's not that Davis isn't a good candidate; it's that Harold would be a better candidate. As far as Firsching is concerned, he's an interesting platform speaker, candid and engaging. But his libertarian perspective is not a governing philosophy. This is his fourth run for Congress, so it seems like he's running more for the fun of raising issues than with any realistic expectation of advancing beyond the primary.
Harold's campaign, unfortunately, is considered to be a heresy among GOP party leaders from Illinois to Washington. They see her challenge as a threat to the Republican Party holding the seat, and it may well be. But given the circumstances by which Davis was nominated, it's no crime for Harold to take her case to the voters.
We do not, however, underestimate the challenge she has undertaken, nor the ill will she may have generated among those who tried to discourage her run. We also are not impressed by Davis' refusal, with one exception, to participate in public debates with his GOP opponents. Showing such disregard for the voters does not speak well for the incumbent.
But those are tactics, and voters are choosing candidates.
Harold's views, while conservative, are not hidebound. But unlike many Republicans, she possesses the ability to make her case to people who have not traditionally supported conservative positions.
Given all that plus her experience as Miss America, her background as a graduate of the University of Illinois and the Harvard Law School and her obvious concern for people at all levels of society, Harold brings much to the table.
Davis is sensibly conservative, certainly no ideologue. He's clearly a credible Republican officeholder. But why accept adequate when you can have exceptional?
In our view, Erika Harold is a potentially exceptional member of Congress. For that reason, we endorse her for the GOP nomination in the 13th Congressional District.