Californians are left with a deeply unsatisfying choice for the U.S. Senate this year. The incumbent, Democrat Barbara Boxer, has failed to distinguish herself during her 18 years in office. There is no reason to believe that another six-year term would bring anything but more of the same uninspired representation. The challenger, Republican Carly Fiorina, has campaigned with a vigor and directness that suggests she could be effective in Washington - but for an agenda that would undermine this nation's need to move forward on addressing serious issues such as climate change, health care and immigration.
...Boxer, first elected in 1992, would not rate on anyone's list of most influential senators. Her most famous moments on Capitol Hill have not been ones of legislative accomplishment, but of delivering partisan shots. Although she is chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee, it is telling that leadership on the most pressing issue before it - climate change - was shifted to Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., because the bill had become so polarized under her wing.
For some Californians, Boxer's reliably liberal voting record may be reason enough to give her another six years in office. But we believe Californians deserve more than a usually correct vote on issues they care about. They deserve a senator who is accessible, effective and willing and able to reach across party lines to achieve progress on the great issues of our times. Boxer falls short on those counts.
Boxer's campaign, playing to resentment over Fiorina's wealth, is not only an example of the personalized pettiness that has infected too much of modern politics, it is also a clear sign of desperation.
In past elections, Boxer has had the good fortune of having Republican opponents who were inept, underfunded, on the fringe right - or combinations thereof. Her opponent this time, Fiorina, is proving to be articulate, well-funded and formidable.
After issuing perfunctory warnings about Fiorina's ogreish conservatism, the Chron concludes:
It is a dismal choice between an ineffective advocate for causes we generally support and a potentially strong advocate for positions we oppose. Neither merits our endorsement for the U.S. Senate.
I can almost guarantee that some of this editorial's choicest pull quotes will find their way into Fiorina campaign ads. Pull quotes, incidentally, the Chronicle's editors surely knew would be used against Boxer when they penned them. I'll say it again: This is a de facto endorsement of Fiorina.