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Fong for the Senate

October 25, 1998

Sen. Barbara Boxer has been a staunchly loyal defender of the handful of issues that drive her: a woman's right to an abortion, environmental protections, tough gun control. On all of these issues, she's been a dependable vote. Dare we ask for more in a U.S. senator for California?

We do dare. We dare to ask for a senator who can forge new alliances, nationally and internationally, to benefit California. A leader for the state's disparate and too often disorganized representatives in Congress. A senator who demonstrates a willingness to engage in, and readiness to take charge on, a wide variety of economic and social issues that will face the nation's most diverse and populous state.

State Treasurer Matt Fong is not that leader, yet. But he has the potential to be. Sen. Boxer will always be a sure vote for a number of traditional liberal causes. Many of the causes she supports are good ones. But unlike Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California's senior senator and a Democrat who's been unafraid to break out of the party lock step when needed, Boxer seems to see herself as the representative of a collection of impassioned constituencies. Her six years as senator have told us all there is to know about her vision of leadership. It's a limited vision and, we think, one that is no longer fitting for California as it enters the 21st century.

All of which brings us to Matt Fong. In his campaign, Fong has demonstrated growth. He started out tentative and almost nervous in his public presentations; he now exudes confidence. Fong is a low-key Republican moderate. He supports existing federal gun controls, although he should go further and support more stringent ones. He supports a woman's right to an abortion in the first trimester and, most important, would not support a constitutional amendment to overturn Roe vs. Wade.

His four years as state treasurer have served him well: He demonstrates a keen grasp of the economic and trade issues that are so important to the state's long-term well-being. On some issues, such as the possible impeachment of President Clinton, he's been noncommittal. Keeping an open mind and being unwilling to commit early to a hard-line position can be a strength in Washington.

If Fong trusts his instincts and puts California's and the nation's interests foremost, he has the potential to bring a fresh and broad-based sensibility to the Senate. The Times endorses Matt Fong for the Senate.

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