Our long national nightmare of an election season is almost over.
After a race in which issues were largely ignored, whoever is elected president Tuesday will face the daunting challenge of trying to unite a deeply divided country. After all of the nasty tweets, slanted TV ads, circuslike debates, and theatrical campaign stops, there is only one remaining candidate remotely qualified to be president of the United States.
Hillary Clinton's sloppy handling of emails with classified information and questions about donors to the Clinton Foundation shouldn't be ignored. But nothing thrown at Clinton outweighs the outstanding background she has to be a very good president. Her work as a child advocate, first lady, U.S. senator, and secretary of state casts a shadow on Donald Trump's dubious credentials.
Not only has Trump never held elected office, his uneven business and TV career has centered on monetizing his name as a brand. Several Trump companies have gone bankrupt. Nearly $1 billion in real estate losses enabled him to avoid paying federal income taxes for years. Then there's the sexual-assault accusations that a dozen women have made against Trump, who in a tape recording was caught bragging about grabbing women's genitals.
It's unlikely that a candidate like Trump would have gotten this far in prior election years. His nomination portends future trouble for the Republican Party. Clinton's hard fight for the Democratic nomination raised questions too. But there's no doubt that HILLARY CLINTON can be president, and that Trump's divisive, misogynistic, racist, insult-driven, egomaniacal campaign is something this country doesn't need.
Almost as important as the presidential election is a race that could determine which party controls the U.S. Senate. Republican incumbent Pat Toomey, except for his very limited support for gun control, has been a reliable vote for far-right ideas that benefit Wall Street and do little for ordinary consumers. His refusal to follow other respected Republicans in denouncing Trump smacked of political expedience.
The Democratic nominee, KATIE McGINTY, comes from working-class roots and has ably served the public on both the state and federal levels. McGinty understands the hardships and struggles facing average American families. Her point of view would be an asset to the Senate.
Voters in Philadelphia and its suburbs could use some better choices in the races for House seats. Democrats facing token Republican opposition aren't being seriously challenged.
Against stiffer competition, incumbent Democrat Bob Brady's weak efforts to lift the First District out of poverty might mean trouble; but other than her compassion, Republican Debbie Williams has little to offer voters. BOB BRADY is the better choice.
In the Second District, Democratic State Rep. Dwight Evans is running to replace Chaka Fattah, who was convicted on federal fraud and racketeering charges. Evans wasn't endorsed in the Democratic primary because of questions concerning a nonprofit he founded that came under scrutiny for mismanaging state grants. But Evans' Republican opponent, businessman James Jones, lacks cogent ideas and his top adviser is former State Sen. Milton Street, who was convicted of breaking tax laws. DWIGHT EVANS is the better choice.
Republican Pat Meehan, seeking reelection in the Seventh District, faces an able challenger in Democrat Mary Ellen Balchunis, a former political science professor at La Salle University. But Balchunis failed to make the case that she would do a better job representing constituents than PATRICK MEEHAN.
Seeking to replace retiring Republican Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick in the Eighth District is his brother Brian Fitzpatrick, a former FBI agent. But the better choice for voters is STEVE SANTARSIERO, a former lawyer and teacher who knows the district better and established a strong track record as a Democratic state legislator.
In other state races, the Inquirer endorsed Democrat JOSH SHAPIRO over Republican State Sen. John Rafferty to replace former Attorney General Kathleen Kane, who resigned in August after her conviction on perjury and other charges. Shapiro has a clearer vision on restoring integrity to the office.
Democrat JOE TORSELLA, a former CEO of the National Constitution Center, was recommended for state treasurer over Republican Gibbsboro businessman Otto Voit. Torsella has thoughtful ideas to run a department with a history of corrupt leadership.
Auditor General EUGENE DePASQUALE, a Democrat, had a successful first term and deserves reelection. He faces Republican John Brown, the Northampton County executive.
A ballot question asks voters to amend the Pennsylvania constitution to raise the retirement age for judges from 70 to 75. The legislature changed the question's wording in a way that might mislead voters, prompting a legal challenge. Voters can settle the matter by voting NO.
But voters in Philadelphia should vote YES on a ballot measure that would allow the city to borrow $184.3 million to improve streets, parks, rec centers, and other facilities.
South Jersey's incumbent members of Congress - Democrat DONALD NORCROSS in the First District and Republicans FRANK LoBIONDO in the Second District and TOM MacARTHUR in the Third - are more capable of serving their districts than their opponents.
A ballot question allowing North Jersey casinos should be rejected with a NO vote to protect Atlantic City and the regional economy. Voters should vote YES to dedicate the gasoline tax to transportation projects.