Political outsider or culture warrior for Missouri US Senate seat? Our recommendation

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Missourians should send Trudy Busch Valentine to the U.S. Senate.

That’s a sentence we would not have written a year ago, and might not have written three months ago. Busch Valentine, 65 and a Democrat, has never held elective office.

She ran a sometimes lackluster primary campaign. On occasion, she lacked a familiarity with issues. She had to explain her role in the all-white Veiled Prophet Ball in St. Louis, where she was crowned queen in the 1970s, when the celebration still excluded Black people. She promptly apologized.

Since the primary, however, Valentine has shown an impressive streak of passion and energy that would serve Missourians well in Washington. She has worked hard in this campaign. She has earned our endorsement, and your vote.

Perhaps even more emphatically, she is voters’ best chance to avoid electing Republican Eric Schmitt as Missouri’s junior senator to Sen. Josh Hawley.

“I will lead with integrity, and honesty, and respect and dignity,” Busch Valentine said. In those values alone she far outshines Schmitt, the disastrous Missouri attorney general who wants to take his bitter, divisive politics to the U.S. Capitol.

Two other party candidates, Libertarian Jonathan Dine and Paul Venable of the Constitution Party, are also on the ballot.

Valentine’s personal story is compelling. She lost a sister at an early age, and lost her husband to cancer when he was 49, leaving her to raise six children. Both tragedies have informed her understanding of public office.

She shares many values of the Democratic Party. She supports an end to the filibuster, which routinely clogs the Senate and prevents progress. She supports gun safety reforms such as background checks and red flag laws.

Valentine wants to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. She wants to extend the child tax credit, which lifted more than three million children from poverty.

She strongly supports abortion rights. “A woman deserves the right to choose the health care that she needs, and that includes safe and legal abortion,” the candidate told us. She wants to put the Roe v. Wade framework into federal law.

Yet she shows a streak of independence from the Democratic Party that many Missouri voters would welcome. She’s against defunding police departments, for example. She told us she does not support “Medicare for All,” which is one version of government-guaranteed health insurance. She would oppose the next iteration of the Green New Deal.

We don’t agree with every position she takes. Normally, we’d favor a candidate with more experience in public office. But every election comes down to choices, and in this case voting for Schmitt would be a reckless one. Valentine, for all the wealth she was born with, is thoughtful, engaged and committed to the state. That’s precisely what voters should want in a senator.

Valentine’s bipartisan approach stands in frightening contrast to Schmitt, whose campaign and service as attorney general embarrasses the state on a daily basis.

Schmitt has waged nonstop culture wars in Missouri. He’s fought costly battles against sensible COVID-19 restrictions, putting Missouri lives at risk. He’s filed countless frivolous, unsuccessful lawsuits — against China, immigration, on state tax cuts, student loan forgiveness and others.

He seems more interested in Fox News appearances than serving the people who pay his salary.

Schmitt was an aggressive member of the Big Lie coalition that sued to stop President Joe Biden from taking office. In that, he slandered other states and betrayed democracy.

He declined to speak with us, and has ducked debates.

He cannot defend his record. It’s hard to imagine a worse outcome for Missouri than two senators named Josh Hawley and Eric Schmitt. If Schmitt prevails, the state that sent Harry Truman, Jack Danforth, Stuart Symington and Roy Blunt to the Senate will know the deep shame of electing two right-wing caricatures to represent their interests.

There is another way. Missourians can send Trudy Busch Valentine to the U.S. Senate, and we urge them to do so.

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