Sen. Jim Bunning is the Enquirer's choice for a second term in Washington, as the nation continues to fight the war on terror, and deals with the critical issues of Social Security and Medicare.
Bunning was elected in 1998, after having served in the U.S. House of Representatives for 12 years, which included a seat on the powerful Ways and Means Committee.
In the Senate, he sits on the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, the Committee on Veterans' Affairs and the Senate Budget Committee, and the Senate Finance Committee, a seat that gives him input on two-thirds of all federal legislation, including tax issues, Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security.
While we endorse Bunning, it's important to note that his opponent, State Sen. Daniel Mongiardo, has served Kentucky well in his current office. Yet, the nastiness of this campaign makes us understand if some voters go to the polls Nov. 2 holding their noses.
Early during the campaign, Bunning said Mongiardo resembled one of Saddam Hussein's sons, and only recently apologized for the tasteless remark during a televised debate. Mongiardo is of Italian descent and said he is as American as they come, having been born in Hazard, Ky., on the Fourth of July. Bunning's campaign also sponsored ads that portrayed Mongiardo, a physician, as a "Medicaid Millionaire" and showed a picture of an airplane and mansion that didn't even belong to Mongiardo. Mongiardo accused Bunning of cheating in a debate by using a TelePrompTer, though Bunning insists he was following the rules. Bunning also blamed Mongiardo for spreading rumors that he is in poor health, a charge Mongiardo denies.
Campaign tactics aside, Bunning has a proven record of strong leadership and service. His straightforward, sometimes gruff style can be off-putting, but at age 72 Bunning appears mentally sharp and physically fit, belying some media reports that have questioned his cognitive ability.
Most recently, as a member of the House-Senate Conference Committee, Bunning helped negotiate a buyout for the state's tobacco farmers. This bill, long sought by Kentucky's tobacco growers, will provide financial support for farmers also help them leave tobacco farming and grow other crops if they choose to. Seventy percent of Kentucky burley tobacco growers no longer farm, Bunning told the editorial board.
He said getting federal funding to replace the aging Brent Spence Bridge remains a strong priority in his next term. He also favors offering a voluntary prescription drug benefit under Medicare and allowing people to invest part of their Social Security dollars into private accounts. He also understands the importance of the war on terror and national security, and strongly supports the Bush administration in those efforts.
He deserves a chance to continue to serve Kentucky in Washington.
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We support Bunning for re-election
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