Going into this campaign, we had high hopes for her. She appeared to be an accomplished leader who, as Vermont's adjutant general, succeeded in a field not exactly known as being hospitable to women.
She has the personality and the temperament to be in politics and looked at the beginning as though she would be a formidable Republican candidate.
As it turned out, her lack of political savvy and experience has hurt her time and time again.
Rainville spoke of ethics, and accepted campaign money from some of the most ethically challenged Republican members of Congress. She spoke of the need for change in Washington, but has said that changing the current House leadership won't make a difference. She says she'll be an independent voice for Vermonters, yet supports issues that most Vermonters oppose, such as President Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy and the ongoing debacle in Iraq.
She has mostly gotten a free pass from the Vermont press for her various missteps. But her lack of experience remains troubling, as are her often wishy washy stands on the issues.
Outgoing Senate President Peter Welch, the Democratic Party's candidate, is, by contrast, an open book. With a lengthy record of public service, there are few unknowns about Welch.
He is an experienced politician, which is not necessarily a bad thing when it comes to getting things done in Washington.
Welch is clear about what he stands for. He opposes the Bush tax cuts and believes U.S. troops should be withdrawn from Iraq as soon as is practical. He wants to raise the federal minimum wage and protect Social Security from those who want to privatize it. He believes in fiscal responsibility and that only a Democratic-controlled Congress can deliver that.
That is, we think, the most critical part of this contest. Control of the House may shift to the Democrats after this election. If that happens, the worst excesses of the Bush administration may finally be reined in.
For all of Rainville's assurances that she will put Vermont's needs ahead of her party's, she will be part of the majority if the GOP retains control of the House. As we have seen, there is little independence allowed by the Republican leadership. GOP members have to toe the line and do what the leadership and the White House wants, or face the consequences.
Change is needed in Washington, and we do not believe that Martha Rainville, as a Republican, will be able to bring that about.
For that reason, the Reformer endorses Peter Welch for the U.S. House.