Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Give Perfecto a Chance

If you're a regular reader of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, you are probably unaware that there's actually a race for the 4th Congressional District seat, currently held by Democrat Gwen Moore. Republican Perfecto Rivera is challenging Moore, and the Journal Sentinel has yet to write a single, solitary word about a race that affects 650,000 Milwaukee area residents.

Granted, we already know who is probably going to win this seat, and Rivera's campaign had a little trouble getting off the ground. Maybe he isn't mounting much of an active campaign. But isn't the first Latino congressional candidate in Wisconsin newsworthy at all? The local media were hyperventilating when Tammy Baldwin became the first female Congressperson from Wisconsin, and they were equally as dazzled by Gwen Moore becoming our first African-American Representative. The difference? They're Democrats.

There's a larger issue at work, too. Here we have newspapers screaming for campaign finance reform so we can have fairer campaigns. Yet when it comes time for a challenger to mount a campaign against an intrenched incumbent, the papers are nowhere to be found. If a race receives no media coverage, the natural advantage always goes to the incumbent.

Furthermore, even if Rivera is a big underdog, isn't a campaign a good time to examine the voting records of our elected representatives? Regardless of who wins, don't campaigns provide citizens the microscope they need to judge their politicians? Without media coverage, this examination simply doesn't occur. The only way voters are going to learn anything about the two candidates is if the candidates raise and spent boatloads of money (sometimes known as political speech), which the paper has actively lobbied to curtail.