THE ISSUE The 28th Congressional District presents a distinct choice between two diametrically opposed candidates.
OUR VIEW Republican challenger Jill Rowland, while passionate and articulate, does not present a good enough case for unseating the effective Louise Slaughter.
Every two years since squeaking by Fred Eckert in 1986, Rep. Louise Slaughter has faced a challenge to her congressional seat. It’s rarely been close.
With the wide margins of victory Slaughter usually commands — more than 70 percent of the vote in the last three elections — anyone running against her should be commended for courage and commitment. A vigorous campaign is good for a democratic republic.
Republican Jill Rowland is an credible candidate who is passionate about her legion of policy differences with Democratic incumbent Slaughter. That said, the Buffalo dentist doesn’t present a strong enough case for replacing Slaughter in the 28th District, which includes all or part of Brighton, East Rochester, Fairport, Greece, Hamlin, Hilton, Irondequoit, Penfield and Perinton.
There’s a reason Slaughter has posted those big victories, aside from incumbency’s advantages: She’s good at her job. Her sharp command of issues ranging from health care to alternative energy to economic revitalization encompasses both the broad arguments and the most intricate details, a legacy of her microbiologist training. Plus, she has the political savvy and experience — and, as chairwoman of the powerful House Rules Committee, at least for now, the clout — to shepherd legislation effectively, which she has done.
The 111th Congress, of which Slaughter has been an integral part, has hardly been idle. It has passed sweeping health-insurance reform; economy-targeted measures ranging from stimulus spending to the “Cash for Clunkers” program; consumer protections from outrageous credit-card fees and penalties — legislation that affects all of us.
Few of these initiatives are without their problems, or their critics. Rowland describes herself as diametrically opposed to Slaughter, and it’s the truth: She’s against the health-care reform law, believing it leads to government dictating health choices. She regards the stimulus funding as money wasted, useless in boosting employment. She wants the Bush tax cuts extended. In fact, when asked, Rowland could think of no one issue on which the two agree.
But Rowland offers few specifics about policies she would propose or endorse, other than broad intentions to reduce taxes and regulatory burden — and those she does offer often seem inadequate: the Republican standby of tort reform as an alternative to the health-care law, for instance. While helpful, it would have only chipped at the big problem: insuring millions of uninsured.
The 28th District’s candidates’ differences aren’t vague — they’re sharply delineated. But for those still undecided, we recommend the candidate with experience, influence, intricate knowledge and legislative accomplishment: Louise Slaughter.