Gazette endorsements: For Congress, Edwards and Hoyer -- Gazette.Net


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Incumbent U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Dist. 4) has matured in Congress and remains in touch with the needs of the majority of her constituents, despite the challenges redistricting has posed since she initially was elected in 2008.

With most of her district being in Prince George’s County (now including a piece of Anne Arundel County, which replaced a portion of Montgomery County), Edwards has kept focused on aiding federal employees and improving health care — both big issues in Prince George’s, home to about 25 percent of the region’s federal employees and a hospital system struggling due to a large number of uninsured patients.

Among her accomplishments: She successfully fought to include a provision in the Affordable Care Act that addresses excessive premium increases by insurance companies, and she co-sponsored the 21st Century Investment Act of 2011 with U.S. Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett (R-Dist. 6) of Buckeystown to increase manufacturing and research-and-development tax credits — which goes a long way given the lack of bipartisan cooperation in Congress.

More recently, she has focused on constituent services, to include telephone town halls and public forums on important topics, such as government consulting and nonprofit assistance. Such efforts are important, but she needs to ensure she is constantly pushing for change in Congress, too.

She has focused on bringing federal leases to the county, but her efforts have yielded few, if any, results. Although she maintains she has kept pressure on the General Services Administration, which makes decisions regarding federal leases, the announcement in August that the U.S. Treasury Department was shuttering its Hyattsville office, taking with it 200 jobs, shows much more needs to be done. According to county officials, only about 5 percent of federal office space in the Washington area is in the county.

Edwards is being challenged by Republican Faith Loudon of Pasadena, who has been active in the Republican Central Committee in Anne Arundel County, and Libertarian Scott Soffen of Ellicott City.

Loudon wants to get rid of all federal mandates impacting small businesses to help boost the economy, hopes to end federal government hiring for a while, cut back pensions for new federal employees and reduce the amount of military equipment being deployed unnecessarily to help reduce the deficit.

Neither Edwards nor Loudon support local gambling efforts, but they clash on abortion and same-sex marriage. Loudon opposes abortion, regardless of the situation, and believes marriage should be between a man and a woman.

Loudon, however, doesn’t have a solid grasp of key issues — and, in some cases, her stance on the issues is similarly uncertain — and is vague on solutions.

Soffen declined to meet with Gazette editors or take part in a voter’s guide questionnaire.

Fifth District

The 5th District race for the U.S. House of Representatives features two longtime politicians and elected legislators — House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D), the incumbent, and Maryland House of Delegates Minority Leader Anthony J. O’Donnell (R). They are joined on the ballot by a Libertarian candidate, Arvin Vohra, and Green Party candidate Bob Auerbach.

The 5th District, with its high concentration of federal workers and military installations, needs an experienced and effective advocate in Congress. Both Hoyer, in Washington, and O’Donnell, in Annapolis, have been chosen by their party colleagues for high leadership positions. Both of them have served as spokesmen for their party’s position on the issues of the day. The nature of that makes them partisan figures in some quarters.

But both Hoyer and O’Donnell have made it clear in this campaign that they believe Congress cannot afford to remain deadlocked; by inaction and brinksmanship not only failing to solve problems but creating crises that have shaken the confidence of the nation and the world in the ability of the United States to put the federal government on a sound financial footing. We agree and our hope is that after this election there will be at least a temporary cease-fire in the ideological wars and there will come a period of compromise in which solutions, even imperfect ones, can be crafted to deal with the federal deficit and other problems that our country faces.

If that time comes, Hoyer is the best person to help facilitate it. In addition, Hoyer is the best person to protect the interests of his district, whose economy is as closely tied to federal spending as any in the country.

Let’s acknowledge that in the last four years, no one has been able to broker a resolution to the stalemate in the House of Representatives, including Hoyer, and this is a disappointment.

But Hoyer’s reputation in Congress prior to this current divisive term, according to his colleagues who are interested in making government work, is of someone who not only is willing but eager to work with members of the opposition party to craft legislation that can move forward.

During most of his long career he has been effective at doing that. Following an election that should send a message to all members of Congress that compromise is needed, the 5th District will benefit from Hoyer’s ability to reach across the aisle to reach solutions to the deficit challenges without decimating the 5th District’s economy.

Close to home, Hoyer has proven time and again that he is an effective advocate and a tireless worker for his district. His efforts to protect and expand the work at the 5th District’s military bases continue to bear fruit. In the last two years, he has orchestrated visits to these bases and briefings about the work done at them by high-ranking Pentagon officials, including the secretary of defense. And throughout his career, he has stood up for the legitimate interests of federal workers.

Talk to him, as many of his constituents do because he spends so much time at events in the district, and it is clear that he hasn’t lost a step. He is actively engaged in district issues and intimately familiar with all of the efforts to tackle the big problems Congress faces. He remains hopeful that a shift in mood will enable Congress to begin acting constructively and responsibly again.