The race for Florida’s District 18 seat in the U.S. House of Representatives is one of the most closely watched in the country.
It could be said that all of this national attention is because the district — which encompasses northern Palm Beach County and Martin and St. Lucie counties — is considered one of the most important “swing” seats in arguably the most important “swing” state. But you could just as easily ascribe this attention to the fact that it is a “see-saw” district that shows very little loyalty to any one party.
The Democrats have a choice between two smart, tough-minded candidates. Both are motivated by what they’ve seen transpire in Washington, D.C. — especially over the past 18 months. And they both want to change what they call a troubling trajectory for our democracy.
The Post Editorial Board endorses Lauren Baer, 37, in the Democratic primary over former U.S. Navy JAG officer and NextEra attorney Pamela Keith. To be sure, Keith, 49, is a firebrand who would no doubt be willing to go toe-to-toe with Republicans in Congress to push a national agenda of progressive ideals. But while that is laudable, all politics are indeed local and voters in U.S. House District 18 must be sure their issues will come first.
That is less of concern with Baer, who also speaks passionately about the “damage being done to our country’s democratic foundation” and the concern that raises for her 20-month-old daughter. But as someone who was raised in the district, Baer is careful to tie any national issue — such as health care — directly to the residents living there. For example, she notes the roughly 74,000 district residents who would have lost access to affordable health care had the Republicans been successful in repealing the Affordable Care Act.
Baer, a consultant with the Albright Stonebridge Group who spent six years as a U.S. State Department advisor in the Obama administration, also knows the value of compromise and laments how partisan divisiveness has stalled meaningful legislation in Congress.
“We’ve got to be willing to fight,“ she told the Editorial Board, “but we’ve also got to be willing to sit down at the table. Voters here know that Washington needs for that to happen to accomplish anything.”
For example, she said more could have been done to prevent the toxic algae blooms plaguing the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee river estuaries if there was less finger-pointing and more cooperation between state water managers and environmental officials and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
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