Surprise!  Elyria Chronicle endorses Quentin Potter over Bob Gibbs

Surprise! Elyria Chronicle endorses Quentin Potter over Bob Gibbs

Oct 22, 2020
Chronical-Telegraph Editorial Board

In ordinary times we might endorse U.S. Rep. Bob Gibbs for reelection, but we just can’t bring ourselves to do it now.

Although we have numerous political disagreements with Gibbs, R-Lakeville, he has done some good during his tenure. He pushed to dredge the Cuyahoga River and worked with a bipartisan group of legislators who successfully resisted cuts to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. He also pointed out that he has worked to help hospitals during the pandemic.

None of that, however, is enough to overcome our concerns about his record of supporting President Donald Trump.

Gibbs, 66, is a conservative, business-friendly Republican rather than an extremist, but he has enabled Trump’s worst impulses. He voted against impeachment. He supported allowing Trump to raid the Pentagon’s budget to fund his ineffective border wall. During an endorsement interview he seemed far more interested in Hunter Biden than the myriad of scandals that have plagued the Trump administration.

He also toyed with conspiracy theories, including the debunked idea that the coronavirus originated in a Chinese virology lab. He didn’t go so far as to say it was deliberately released, telling us he believed it was an accident, but members of Congress shouldn’t be repeating outlandish claims from the recesses of the internet.

Quentin Potter, Gibbs’ Democratic opponent from Canton, struck us as practical and someone who would let science and facts drive his decision-making.

Potter, 64, told us he entered the race only because at the time Gibbs didn’t have an opponent. He ran as an unopposed write-in candidate in the Democratic primary, but he is on the ballot in the general election.

“I didn’t feel that the incumbent was doing his job, and I still feel that today, that he doesn’t represent the district,” Potter said.

Potter said he would have voted for impeachment and opposed using military funds for the border wall. He supported addressing climate change, reforming police and enacting reasonable gun-control measures. Potter also rightly criticized Gibbs’ enduring opposition to the Affordable Care Act, which the Trump administration is seeking to do away with, thus ending its protections for those with preexisting conditions.

Potter told us his political positions tend to line up with those of former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee for president.

Gibbs has far more political experience than his opponent. A farmer by trade, he spent time in the Ohio House and Senate before making the jump to Congress in 2011.

Potter hasn’t held elected office, but he has worked extensively in state government, including stints as chief financial officer and deputy director at the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, and CFO for the Department of Administrative Services. He also served as vice president and treasurer for Lorain County Community College from 2011 through 2014.

That experience, we believe, more than qualifies Potter to provide solid representation for the district. His financial background would be put to good use as the federal government grapples with how to get the economy going again in the aftermath of the pandemic, if not before.

Libertarian Brandon Lape , 39, also is in the race, but he has no business being in government because of his irresponsible views on the coronavirus. He told us during an endorsement interview that the pandemic was being used as “a political tool to divide and conquer the people.” He also said it would be better if people didn’t wear masks so more became infected, which he argued would speed up herd immunity.

Were Americans to follow Lape’s dangerous advice, the already surging infection rate would spiral out of control. More people would get sick and more would die.

Gibbs is confident in victory. He told us that he didn’t think “it’s much of a race.”

He’s probably right. The largely rural district is drawn to elect a Republican. It encompasses 10 counties, and in Lorain County includes Avon and North Ridgeville in addition to the villages of LaGrange, Rochester and Wellington, and the townships of Brighton, Columbia, Eaton, Grafton, Huntington, LaGrange, Penfield, Rochester and Wellington.

Potter acknowledged he faced an uphill battle, although he said the better Biden did in Ohio, the better his chances were of beating Gibbs. The most recent Real Clear Politics average of polls showed Trump at 46.6 percent compared to Biden’s 46.4 percent. That places the state in toss-up territory, although the same probably can’t be said of the 7th Congressional District.

“I continue to be optimistic, but realistic,” Potter said.

Voters should be realistic as well and recognize that the longshot Potter is the best candidate in the race.