Pennsylvania voters have a variety of contests to settle on Election Day, and this time the marquee race -- the choice of president -- certainly lives up to its billing. The long political battle waged by two U.S. senators, Barack Obama and John McCain, has been described as historic for several reasons, not the least of which is the potential turning point the outcome poses for the nation.
But Tuesday's balloting is not just about the main event. The undercard features races for the key state offices of attorney general, auditor general and treasurer. Voters will pick their next representatives in the U.S. House, as well as the state House and, for some, the state Senate. Pennsylvanians also will be asked whether the state should float $400 million in bonds to fund repairs of water and sewage systems.
Since early September, the Post-Gazette editorial board has interviewed dozens of candidates, and over the last month we have released our endorsements (you can retrieve them online at post-gazette.com/forum). Here is a recap of our recommendations for Nov. 4.President
It's time to take the Republican Party at its word: Let's put country first. Tuesday's election comes as a day of reckoning on what the party has delivered for the past eight years.
The urgent need for change that all Americans crave can be traced to one man: George W. Bush. The measure of his presidency's failure is that he dare not show his face on the campaign trail.
Republican standard bearers Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin have had no choice. They had to run as "mavericks" to distance themselves from the grim record of debilitating wars abroad, economic crisis, bailouts and soaring deficits at home and everywhere the abuse of power and squandering of America's moral prestige.
While mostly an enabler of the Bush worldview, Mr. McCain has been a sometime maverick in the past. That happy warrior, however, was missing in this campaign. Laboring under the long shadow of the White House record, his campaign has gone further into the shadows, reduced to peddling fear and guilt by association. The ticket has not put country first, but lust for power.
The campaign of Barack Obama has been like day and night compared to this torrent of smears. Sen. Obama has counter-punched, but he has kept his dignity and focus. His eloquent grace and his commitment to speak directly to issues that matter to Americans -- ending the war in Iraq, bringing tax relief to the middle class -- have stamped him as presidential in both judgment and temperament.
His very presence on the campaign trail has refuted all the desperate slanders about him. He is what you thought he was: A decent, reasonable and intelligent American who is the only hope to bring real change. The Post-Gazette urges its readers to put their country first and vote for the Democratic ticket of Barack Obama and Joe Biden.State Attorney General
Republican Tom Corbett of Shaler has been effective as Pennsylvania's top law enforcement officer. He has gone after official corruption in the General Assembly with the Bonusgate investigation and turned the heat up on child predators.State Auditor General
Jack Wagner, formerly a Pittsburgh council member and state senator, has followed the public's money -- and how well it was spent (or not). Along the way, the Beechview Democrat's audits shined a revealing light on the operations of PHEAA (the college student aid agency), LIHEAP (the low-income home heating program) and the Port Authority of Allegheny County.State Treasurer
Especially at a time of financial uncertainty, the state needs a reliable custodian of its billions of dollars in investments. Tom Ellis, a Republican from Montgomery County, is a partner in the public finance department of his law firm and he has executive experience as a former county commissioner. He's also free of any big ties to Wall Street.U.S. House
• 4th District. Democrat Jason Altmire of McCandless has done well in his first term, both in tending to the needs of his economically challenged district and in charting a course in Congress away from the policies of the Bush administration.
• 12th District. Johnstown-based Democrat John Murtha has built a long career on understanding the correct needs of the military and being the champion of people in the rust belt. His considerable seniority and his influential voice, after 34 years in Congress, make him valuable to Pennsylvania.
• 14th District. Forest Hills incumbent Mike Doyle was an early critic of the administration's Iraq war policies and an advocate for Pittsburgh interests on Capitol Hill. The seven-term Democrat also is focused on a variety of solutions to the nation's energy challenges.
• 18th District. Challenger Steve O'Donnell of Monroeville, a veteran of the behavioral health field, doesn't have a flashy public profile. His votes as part of a Democratic House, however, would steer the nation toward a more progressive path on health care, energy and the environment.State Senate
• 37th District. A knowledgeable lawmaker, Republican John Pippy of Moon has mastered the details of difficult topics. His challenger is no match for his experience or ideas and he should be re-elected to the Senate.State House
As a result of interviews with candidates in competitive races for the House of Representatives, the Post-Gazette made the following endorsements:
• 20th District -- Don Walko (D)
• 21th District -- Dom Costa (D)
• 23rd District -- Dan Frankel (D)
• 27th District -- Dan Deasy (D)
• 28th District -- Mike Turzai (R)
• 32nd District -- Anthony DeLuca (D)
• 33rd District -- Frank Dermody (D)
• 35th District -- Marc Gergely (D)
• 38th District -- Bill Kortz (D)
• 39th District -- David Levdansky (D)
• 42nd District -- Matt Smith (D)
• 44th District -- Ayanna M. Lee (D)
• 46th District -- Jesse White (D)Ballot question
Vote Yes to require the state to float $400 million in investment bonds to help fund long-overdue repairs to water and sewage treatment systems in Pennsylvania communities.