COL Republican candidates should be reelected

The presidential debates revealed a determined President George W. Bush and articulate Sen. John Kerry. Bush highlighted Kerry's contradictory voting record and nuances on the "nuisance" of terrorism. Kerry's most specific "plan" for Iraq replicates Bush's.

In his debate with Sen. John Edwards, Vice President Cheney exhibited the reassuring leadership traits that come with experience.

Kerry denigrated the allegedly "bribed and coerced" U.S. coalition in Iraq. The senator promised to get other "allies" into the war, but German and French officials said they will not send troops to Iraq.

Saddam Hussein's oil for food payoffs revealed that Kerry's "allies" were the real "bribed and coerced" entities striving to protect Saddam from invasion. Secretary General Kofi Anan's son has even been implicated in the scandal.

; The liberal press largely ignored the recent discovery of a grave containing hundreds more of Saddam's atrocity victims; the connections of Saddam to terrorist training and al-Qaida; and the significance of the successful Afghanistan election.


; On the domestic scene, lawyers and activists stand ready to contest voting results and pursue claims of irregularity. Registration and absentee voting processes have revealed problems, felons on the voting rolls and questionable assertions of "voter intimidation."

On the local and state scene, conscientious, enthusiastic incumbents and challengers are running for office. Discriminating voters have clear choices.

; Democrat Tina Liebling is challenging Republican incumbent Carla Nelson in the District 30A House race. Liebling, a criminal defense attorney and university law school instructor, promises to make college more affordable and give "all students opportunities to succeed."

; Liebling contends Nelson voted to impose "new, controversial standards on our schools." An article posted on Liebling's Web site contains stereotypical remarks about religious conservatives and Republicans. Liebling's "faith community" would probably not tolerate such attacks if the situation were reversed.

; Liebling said Rep. Fran Bradley exhibits an "arrogant tone." She described Bradley, the House health and human services finance committee chair, as Carla Nelson's "trainer." These labels are not the recipe for comity in the next legislative session.

Liebling said she favors a balanced budget and fiscal integrity while endorsing more social spending. DFL ad makers have accused Nelson of having a so-called "extreme agenda."

Nelson has authored and supported bills for a balanced budget, affordable health care, increased funding for crime victim services and lower taxes to stimulate business and job creation. Nelson shares Liebling's desire for increased educational funding while encouraging higher standards and accountability with the preservation of local autonomy.

Nelson authored legislation to support the genomics project between Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota, and to renovate laboratory and classroom space for the nursing department at Rochester Community and Technical College.


Liebling's personal achievements suggest she is a conscientious person and a good lawyer and teacher. But Nelson's achievements illustrate the wisdom of re-electing the incumbent.

DFL candidate Kim Norton's social service , education credentials and contributions on the Rochester School Board make her an exemplary candidate for a teaching or administrative position. But Bradley's contributions to human services, health care reform, consumer empowerment, fiscal responsibility, regulatory relief, and patient safety are ample evidence of the wisdom of returning him to the Legislature.

Incumbent Bill Kuisle's agricultural expertise and experience in transportation finance, commerce, and taxation have earned the congenial farmer another term in the House. DFL challenger Andy Welti proved to be a spirited opponent with a promising political future, but is not yet ready to replace his seasoned opponent.

Voters must choose between change and consistency in the city council presidency race. Former teacher, civic activist, historical society director and incumbent city council president, John Hunziker is being challenged by Dennis Hanson, a council colleague. Hanson has expertise in business development.

Their respective backgrounds highlight the skills each candidate brings to city governance. Hunziker has emphasized his mediation skills and contributions to Rochester's infrastructure and historical preservation.

; Election history indicates the advantage goes to incumbents.

Rep. Gil Gutknecht has achieved seniority and influence on agriculture, health, budget and science committees. Gutknecht favors the importation of low-cost prescription medicines. His experience, record of constituent service, and communication skills make his reelection to Congress advisable and likely.

The lack of the political experience of Gutknecht's opponents, Independent farmer Gregory Mikkelson and DFL teacher and writer Leigh Pomeroy make it a no-contest situation.


May the best candidates win on Nov. 2.

Tom Ostrom is a former Rochester Community and Technical College instructor who writes a regular column for the Post-Bulletin.

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