Any challenger to a member of Congress faces an uphill climb, and the journey is all the steeper when the incumbent holds a big advantage in party registration. That's what political newcomer Hans Lessmann, a Republican, faces in his race against the longtime incumbent of the 14th Congressional District, Democrat Mike Doyle. Both live in Forest Hills.
While we share Dr. Lessmann's view that no race should go uncontested, we cannot applaud the aspirant's preparation for the office he seeks or the Tea Party agenda to which he subscribes.
Dr. Lessmann, 52, a graduate of Purdue University and the Pennsylvania College of Optometry, operates a specialty optometry practice in Swissvale. He said he would bring a decidedly conservative view to Congress and that "jobs, energy and tax reform" are the issues motivating him.
Nonetheless, he offered few specifics in a meeting with Post-Gazette editors, not enough to trump the experience and sound positions that have been characteristic of Mr. Doyle's representation for the past 18 years.
Mr. Doyle, 59, has been a successful advocate for the district, which includes the city of Pittsburgh, parts of central and eastern Allegheny County and -- new under redistricting -- Arnold and New Kensington in Westmoreland County.
He opposes GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan's approach to budget-cutting, which would go easy on military outlays at the expense of senior citizens and state governments. He was influential in negotiating a compromise on abortion coverage that preceded passage of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, holds to sensible positions on gun control and has brought important research, development and job training dollars to the region.
The Post-Gazette endorses Mike Doyle for re-election to the U.S. House's 14th District.