Massachusetts will hold party primary elections Tuesday to choose candidates for the U.S. Senate seat held by the late Edward M. Kennedy.
Considering that this seat is open for the first time in 47 years, we're astonished at the weak field of candidates. None stands out as a clear successor to the man some called the Lion of the Senate.
Here are our views on the best choices for Republicans and Democrats:
On the Democratic side, the best option is Steve Pagliuca.
Pagliuca's business experience sets him apart from his two main Democratic opponents, Attorney General Martha Coakley and Congressman Michael Capuano. He is a managing partner at Bain Capital — the same private investment firm that produced former Gov. Mitt Romney. Pagliuca is also a co-owner of the Boston Celtics.
Pagliuca's business background gives him the ability to understand better than his public-sector opponents what it takes for the economy to thrive and produce jobs.
While on other issues his positions differ from our own, mainstream Democrats will find little objectionable in Pagliuca's views or political philosophy. He opposes the war in Iraq and favors bringing troops home soon from Afghanistan.
Pagliuca favors universal health care for all, a stance somewhat more ambitious than the health care reform measures currently before Congress. While he is pro-choice, Pagliuca has pledged to support the reform measure even if the final bill denies public funding for abortion, a stance he says further separates him from rivals Coakley and Capuano.
On the Republican side, Scott Brown is the clear choice.
Brown, a state senator from Wrentham since 2004, is a fiscal conservative, something the Massachusetts congressional delegation sorely needs. He believes that lowering taxes is the best means of jump-starting the economy and creating jobs.
Brown supports the development of alternative energy sources but opposes the "cap-and-trade" scheme currently before Congress for its punitive effects on businesses and families.
Brown has a 29-year military career and is a lieutenant colonel in the Massachusetts National Guard. He understands the sacrifices made by the men and women in our armed forces. He supports President Obama's decision to send more troops to Afghanistan and believes it is necessary to continue to fight and win the war on terrorism.
Brown's experience makes him the clear choice over perennial GOP also-ran Jack E. Robinson.
The campaign, particularly on the Democratic side, has been an unpleasant one. It has not been a campaign of ideas but of competing claims of ideological purity.
Capuano, the congressman from Somerville, has been particularly noteworthy in this regard. Capuano's early ads cast him as the second coming of Ted Kennedy. But he soon veered off on a vicious and unsupportable attack against former Vice President Dick Cheney over the Patriot Act.
Cheney, Capuano's ad claims, was some nefarious, shadowy operative bent on crushing civil liberties. "There'll always be people like Dick Cheney, and the need to stand up to them," Capuano says in his ad.
Capuano needs reminding that laws are enacted by Congress, not by the edicts of vice presidents. If Capuano wants someone to blame for the Patriot Act, he should look to his colleagues in the House and Senate, not Dick Cheney.