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Kaine for Senate

For quite some time it has been clear that Virginia voters will play a critical role in picking the next president.

Now there is word that the race between former Virginia governors Tim Kaine (D) and George Allen (R) could go a long way toward deciding which political party controls the U.S. Senate.

There is no confusing these two candidates, who don’t seem to agree on much beyond the color of grass.

Among the many differences between Allen and Kaine are their positions on deficit reduction and health care.

Kaine favors allowing Bush-era tax cuts for those making more than $500,000 a year to expire, a compromise to partially reduce the debt and deficit. Allen, a fierce supporter of the Bush tax cuts during his previous term in the Senate, doesn’t want to repeal them now.

Allen, however, does advocate a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, calling it a “government takeover of health care” and saying it would add trillions of dollars in spending. Kaine is a staunch supporter of so-called Obamacare, calling the law an important first step in ending discriminatory insurance company practices and increasing every citizen’s access to health care. He contends billions can be saved by allowing the federal government to negotiate bulk purchase discounts from drug manufacturers.

The two men also stand on opposite sides of the fence on immigration, abortion, energy, education and half a dozen other issues.

Allen supports overturning Roe v. Wade and opposes the mandate for insurance plans to cover contraception. Kaine does not.

Kaine believes undocumented workers should be given a path to legal status and fully supports the Dream Act. Allen does not.

Beyond the obvious differences, the central question is which man is more likely to get traction in a Congress that’s as polarized as any in recent memory.

During a string of television ads and in two recent debates, Allen has proven adept at lobbing grenades in Kaine’s direction and painting him as Obama-lite at every opportunity. What he’s proven less adept at is providing details — details on how he’d grow the economy, add jobs and reduce the deficit.

Kaine’s campaign was driven more by ideas and solutions than partisanship and personal attacks. As governor, he got high marks for straight talk and problem-solving. Faced with massive revenue shortfalls during his last three years as governor, he worked with legislators on both sides of the aisle to cut more than $5 billion and balanced the budget. He did all that while finding money to expand pre-kindergarten participation by 40 percent and passing a $1.5 billion bond package for Virginia’s universities and community colleges.

That longstanding commitment to education — from pre-K through college — should serve him well among Northern Virginia voters.

Tim Kaine also has proven he has what it takes to lead in tight fiscal times and is the best choice for the U.S. Senate seat open after Jim Webb decided not to seek another term.

Moran in 8th

Jim Moran has represented the 8th District for 22 years and the experience he possesses will be critical to Congress — and Northern Virginia — in the challenging days, weeks and months ahead.

Moran, who began his career as an Alexandria City councilman, has a well-deserved reputation as someone who cares deeply about his constituents and is smart and savvy enough to deliver the goods for his district.

In addition to leading the charge against potentially devastating sequestration cuts, he has championed investment in local transportation infrastructure while standing up — and securing dollars — for education, the environment and his district’s 65,000 federal employees. He’s also been a tireless champion for issues related to women’s health and equal rights.

Moran recently got $180 million to widen U.S. 1 from four to six lanes, from Telegraph Road north to Mount Vernon Memorial Highway. The project will also improve access to Fort Belvoir.

He also secured $20 million for short- and mid-term transportation improvements in and around Mark Center, greatly reducing the potential for further gridlock in a region that’s already choking on its own exhaust.

Moran and his Republican challenger, Patrick Murray, have significant differences on most major policy issues, including health care, deficit reduction and stimulating the economy. Moran did much of President Obama’s lead blocking on the Affordable Care Act, a law Murray wants to repeal. The challenger prefers allowing businesses to form insurance pools across state lines.

Murray lines up with his party on taxes, favoring the reduction of both the individual and corporate tax rates while eliminating most tax deductions for individuals. Moran would allow the 2003 Bush tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans to expire.

On the job creation front, Moran speaks passionately about the need for America to make critical investments in its rapidly deteriorating infrastructure — power grids, transportation networks, water and sewer systems.

Given the stakes the next Congress faces, it’s wise to recognize Moran’s experience and seniority, which includes a leadership position on the powerful Appropriations Committee and a senior position on the Subcommittee on the Interior and Environment.

All of that, coupled with his record of working effectively with colleagues Frank Wolf (R-Dist. 10) and Gerry Connolly (D-Dist. 11) to get things done for Northern Virginia, make Moran the right choice to represent the 8th District for another two years.

Wolf in 10th

This was undoubtedly the easiest endorsement decision in this election cycle.

In an era of brain-numbing partisanship in Washington, Wolf’s pragmatic, roll-up-the-sleeves leadership style is needed more now than ever.

Throughout his 32 years in Congress, Wolf has argued for more carefully considered policies on both taxing and spending, championed a more thoughtful foreign policy and, perhaps most importantly, earned high marks for constituent service.

While others on Capitol Hill are making partisan-related excuses for why nothing gets done in Washington, Wolf quietly secured federal money for a range of regional issues — Lyme disease, gang prevention and human trafficking among them. Fairfax County’s current traffic problems also would have been worse without Wolf, who reeled in $900 million for rail to Dulles and spearheaded the effort to synchronize traffic lights along Route 7.

On a national scale, Wolf supports any serious attempt to balance the federal budget and cut the deficit, even if it means raising taxes. Although he voted in favor of the Simpson-Bowles Commission’s recommendations, which call for $4trillion in debt reduction over the next decade, he said the issue would best be resolved through a bipartisan deal with a mix of increased revenue and spending cuts.

Wolf’s challenger, Democrat Kristin Cabral, is a former federal prosecutor who speaks passionately about education, workforce training and protecting middle class families in tight economic times. Yet her grasp of many issues is weak, despite her enthusiasm.

Wolf’s experience and independent-minded approach remains the best course for Virginia’s 10th District.

Connolly in 11th

Two years ago, we cited Gerry Connolly’s history of getting things done as a central reason to send him back to Congress. The same is true today.

Connolly, whose reconfigured district now covers most of eastern Fairfax County and Reston in the west, clearly grasps the unique relationship between the federal government and the 11th District, which provides more services to the federal economy than any other district in the United States.

Much of that can be traced to his 13-year run in Fairfax County government — first as the Providence District supervisor and then as chairman. During his time on the board, Fairfax made significant investments in the environment, transportation, affordable housing and public safety. He also played a key role in attracting a handful of national companies to Fairfax.

Although he’s only been in Congress for two terms, Connolly has already managed to grab key committee assignments that may prove critical as the “fiscal cliff,” better known as sequestration, threatens to clobber Northern Virginia’s defense-related economy.

Connolly is a ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform which, among other things, handles key issues relating to Northern Virginia’s IT workforce and economy.

Among his legislative victories was the passage of the Telework Enhancement Act, which requires the federal government to increase teleworking time to reduce traffic and improve the region’s air quality.

He’s also pulled in federal dollars for the completion of the Fairfax County Parkway and the regional Metro system while teaming with Frank Wolf to secure an interest-friendly TIFIA loan for 25 percent of the Dulles Rail project’s second phase.

Chris Perkins, Connolly’s Republican challenger, is an articulate former Army colonel who hopes to lend some “common sense and humility” to a broken Congress.

While Perkins has some compelling thoughts on fixing sequestration and pumping up the economy, the stakes on Capitol Hill are simply too high to turn the 11th District’s car keys over to an untested driver.