Editorial: Lewis for Senate
Posted on Dec 31, 2013 - 01:00 PM Printer Friendly View
The race for Virginia’s 6th Senatorial District seat has been portrayed by Republican candidate Wayne Coleman as a contest between a career politician and an amateur. And, in this analogy, Coleman has proudly cast himself in the role of amateur.
There are very few jobs where a lack of experience is seen as a good thing. But in politics, which has often been the target of anger and frustration, the role of outsider is often seen as the more attractive alternative.
And politics has taken an especially hard hit as of late.
A glance up the road to Washington, D.C. gives ample reason for this negative feeling. The 113th Congress is on track to be the least productive in at least 40 years. A new CNN poll found two-thirds of Americans surveyed agreeing that the current Congress is the worst in their lifetime. And the poorly planned rollout of Obamacare has even some liberals attacking the administration.
Coleman has taken advantage of this negative feeling and is trying his best to portray his opponent, Lynwood Lewis, a member of the House of Delegates from the Eastern Shore, as an elitist, inside-the-Beltway, big government, tax-and-spend liberal. Problem is … this portrayal has little to do with reality.
Lewis is a Democrat, but far from an ideologue. In his decade in the House of Delegates, he has reached across the aisle so often it’s as if there is no barrier between the two parties, at least as far as he’s concerned. Working together for the betterment of all Virginians seems to be his only motivation.
But Coleman has tried to tie Lewis to Obamacare, based on nothing more than party affiliation. He’s made a claim that Lewis has voted to raise taxes 100 times since he’s been in office. And while there may be some technical truth to this assertion, the tax burden has stayed relatively unchanged during Lewis’s time in office. A graph based on data from the Tax Foundation shows Virginia’s state and local taxes remaining at around 9.3 percent of income, essentially a flat line throughout the last decade. In 2010, Virginia had the 20th lowest tax burden in the country. In the Tax Foundation’s index for 2012, Virginia was given the sixth best corporate tax index rank in the nation.
Coleman has shown his amateur status in a remark on a conservative talk show where he seemed to be longing for the days of segregation in public education, calling forced integration the “beginning of the decline” for school districts. He has tried to explain this statement as regret for loss of local control; in Norfolk, seat of most of the 6th district, public schools were shut down in the late 1950s as part of massive resistance, so this statement will resonate.
Residents of the 6th District need someone who will put the needs of all Virginians ahead of special interests, someone with an ability to work across the aisle and, yes, perhaps a little working knowledge of the political process. Experience isn’t always a bad thing.
Lynwood Lewis is a worthy successor to Ralph Northam, another common-sense Eastern Shore native, for this seat. He deserves the support of Mathews residents, and from other voters across the district, on Tuesday.