Tough campaigns

The Journal-World recommends votes for Rep. Jim Ryun and Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.

The Journal-World recommends votes for Rep. Jim Ryun and Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.

The current political scene is such that the contests are more a battle of perceptions and images of candidates, along with a lot of half-truths, than a discussion of issues and accomplishments of those seeking office.

It hasn’t been a pleasant scene.

The Journal-World long has had a policy of not having to endorse one candidate over another in every race – or in any contest. Sometimes there are two good, well-qualified individuals seeking the same office, and the newspaper thinks it is better for the voters to make up their own minds rather than for the paper to suggest one person is better or more qualified than the other.

In other instances, this paper has taken firm, positive stands in favor of one candidate over his or her challenger.

Next week’s election is being colored by many factors and issues. In U.S. Senate and House of Representatives races, the Iraq war is on the top of many voters’ minds. Likewise, the economy and national security efforts are just as important, if not more important. Jobs and taxes are terribly important. As Democratic strategist James Carville said during the Clinton campaign, “It’s the economy, stupid.” In these congressional races, will voters favor candidates who support the overall Bush initiative and their specific district or will they base their decision primarily on the Iraq issue?

As this applies to the race between Jim Ryun and Nancy Boyda, we believe it is important President Bush have the support for his entire program, both domestic and foreign. For this reason, we believe it is best for Kansas, as well as for the entire country, to have Rep. Jim Ryun in Washington to support Bush’s plans for the economy, taxes, job creation, national security and judicial appointments, as well as his policy to fight the growth of terrorism.

This is not to say Ryun has done a superb job, but it would be far better to have Ryun representing this district and to support President Bush than to have his opponent carrying the 2nd District flag and opposing Bush at every turn.

The Kansas attorney general’s race has become a bitter, highly partisan battle between Atty. Gen. Phill Kline and Johnson County Dist. Atty. Paul Morrison, a former Republican turned Democrat.

Unfortunately, numerous side issues have clouded the race: abortion, medical records and past questionable behavior, to name just a few.

It should be a question of whether Kline has done a good, effective job as attorney general or whether Morrison, who compiled a good record as Johnson County’s district attorney, could do a better job. Unfortunately, it’s hard to scrape through all the mud being slung to get to basics. Wipe off the candidate you prefer and mark your ballot for him.

In the governor’s race, Kathleen Sebelius enjoyed a huge advantage entering the contest with name recognition, money and four years as an incumbent. She is an able, tough politician and is quick to claim credit for numerous healthy and sound actions, policies and accomplishments in Kansas. The fact is, however, many of these highly touted accomplishments would not have been achieved without the massive help of the Republican controlled Kansas Senate and House. She would not have been able to claim credit for any of these without GOP support in the Legislature.

This is true on tax issues, the school finance mess and on numerous economic issues. In addition to the help of legislators, the Kansas Supreme Court also deserves a great deal of credit for the school finance plan.

Sebelius’ challenger, Jim Barnett, is a Kansas lawmaker with a fine record. He has done an admirable job in his campaign, but he has been fighting an uphill battle in name recognition and money. Although he might be able to be an effective governor, we believe Kathleen Sebelius has earned another term in office.

In other races, the Journal-World endorses Sandy Praeger in her quest for another term as the state’s insurance commissioner and Tom Sloan in his race for re-election as a state representative. They have served well.

Overall, the important thing is for the public to get out and vote, to make the effort, take the time and fulfill one of the responsibilities of being a good citizen. All Americans should be embarrassed by the miserable turnout of voters in previous elections. Consider what millions of Iraqi citizens braved some months ago to risk their lives to vote in the nation’s first free election.

Likewise, voters should try to separate the phoniness of campaign talk, campaign promises and bragging from the true abilities and records of the individuals seeking office.

This is a great state and a great nation, but it must be protected in every sense: national security, economic soundness and an honest, impartial judicial system that follows the law rather than making the law.

Be sure to vote Nov. 7.