Ohioans knew exactly what they were getting when they elected Republican George Voinovich to the U.S. Senate in 1998 - a blunt-speaking, tough-minded budget hawk willing to tackle the more dismal details of governance and to promote reforms that might be unsexy, but could help make government "work harder and smarter and do more with less."
Voinovich, 68, has met those expectations in his first term in Washington, using his state-level administrative experience to become a real force in the Senate on budget, health care and workforce issues, among others.
He's opposed this fall by Cleveland-area Democrat Eric Fingerhut, a former U.S. House member and, more recently, Ohio state senator who advocates creative new approaches to trade, taxes, health care and military policy. Fingerhut has distinguished himself as a bright, articulate leader among Ohio Senate Democrats.
But Voinovich has put together a solid record during his six years as senator, wielding considerable clout on behalf of Ohio, and he has more than earned another term. He gets our endorsement.
As he did during eight years as governor, Voinovich has relished tackling some unglamorous policy issues. Chief among them is a "human capital" initiative to empower and revitalize federal work force. It is difficult and tedious work that few senators would address, but Voinovich has had six reform bills enacted in the past two years, and his expertise in this field made him key player in the formation of the new Homeland Security department.
An advocate of fiscal restraint who turned around difficult budget situations in Cleveland and at the state level, Voinovich has been a consistent vote against spending increases he feels are excessive.
Not only does he constantly accuse his Senate colleagues of "spending like drunken sailors," he actually makes them walk the plank. He dug in his heels last year to force the White House to reduce its tax-cut plan in half. Voinovich's willingness to buck the administration on various spending plans - and do it in no uncertain terms - is refreshing.
He served as Ohio's early warning system on the budget-busting perils of Medicaid, and has continued that tack in Washington. And he has worked doggedly to get Ohio a better return on gasoline taxes, reducing the "ethanol penalty" the state has faced for using the more environmentally friendly fuel.
Voinovich has served on the Foreign Relations Committee, drawing on his Serbian ethnic background to become the Senate's leading expert on the key region of Southeastern Europe. He's been a voice not only for a strong defense but for human rights and better relations with Eastern European nations.
We are confident that Voinovich will continue his strong, conscientious work on Ohio's behalf in a second term.
EDITORIAL PAGE HEADLINES
Endorsement: Return Voinovich to Senate
Kroger settlement good for community
Catholic stance against Kerry valid
Letters to the editor