The following is the first of the Journal's recommendations for this Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 6.
It says something for U.S. Rep. Peter Welch that we see him on a relatively frequent basis in Southern Vermont. Among all statewide elected officials, he's here in Bennington County at least as often, if not more so, than Gov. Phil Scott. He's certainly here more often than Sen. Bernie Sanders, who visits Bennington County once or twice a year. And he's definitely here more often than Sen. Patrick Leahy, who astonishingly last held a public event in Bennington County in October 2016.
They say 90 percent of success is showing up. But there's more to it than that. Welch has managed to remain an effective lawmaker despite the partisan circus that is the United States Congress. He has been a voice for common sense and reaching across the aisle to get things done, and if the House changes leadership next month, that commitment will be sorely needed. (Again, the behavior of Congressional Republicans makes it impossible to seriously consider adding to their number.)
Earlier this year, Welch's reputation took a bit of a bruising when it was reported that he had accepted donations from pharmaceutical companies supporting a bill that he also supported.
A news investigation found that law actually hindered the ability of federal authorities to keep prescription drugs off the black market.
We do hope that Welch has learned from that situation and in the future will divest himself of big-money donors who could saddle him with even the perception of a conflict of interest. It's true that accepting donations is "the way the game is played" in Congressional politics. But we'd like to see Vermont lead rather than follow in this regard, and we're confident Welch can do so.
But whatever Welch lost as a result of that report, he regained this past summer by doing what he does well in Vermont — taking the time to learn-first hand about the issues for himself. When a cruel and bigoted administration separated immigrant children from their parents and put them in cages along the southwestern border, Welch was the only member of the Vermont delegation who went there to see in person what was happening and to call attention to the wrongs being perpetrated in our names. And when he returned, he showed he'd paid attention — blaming not the ICE agents put in an impossible situation, but the president and the Republican majority that blithely enabled this travesty.
That sort of commitment to the job, and to what's important, is valuable to Vermont.