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Midterm Elections 2018: Pennsylvania and New Jersey endorsement guide | Editorial

The Inquirer Editorial Board's recommendations for Election Day 2018.

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Voter registrationRead moreSIGNE WILKINSON

The 2018 midterm election is on Tuesday, Nov. 6.

Prior to each election, the Inquirer's Editorial Board, which operates independently from the newsroom, identifies the races where an endorsement can help readers understand where candidates stand on issues and why we think voters should support (or not support) a particular candidate. Then, the Board hosts meetings with candidates from the major parties running in those races.

We think all elections are important and try to cover as many as we can.  In elections like the upcoming midterms, with many races, we have to make the hard decision to limit our endorsements to highly competitive races.

We take this job seriously and spend time researching the candidates' backgrounds through the work of our newsroom colleagues as well as through our own reporting. We dig into their positions on the issues we think are most important for their constituents and prepare questions to guide conversation.

>> READ MORE: These women could make history in Pennsylvania | Editorial

The meetings are "on the record," which means anything discussed can be reported. Political reporters and editors are invited to participate, but they do not weigh in on the endorsement process. This year, we recorded audio of each meeting and made that available to readers as well. You can listen to full audio recording of each candidate's meeting by clicking through to their endorsement and also see brief videos of the candidates.

After the meetings, the Board deliberates. Based on our research, our discussions with candidates, and positions we've taken on issues in previous editorials, the Board makes a decision about which candidate to endorse. Sometimes, it's an easy choice and sometimes there's a lot of debate amongst our Board members. Sometimes, too, the choice is hard; when we prefer "none of the above."  But we believe any choice is better than sitting out an election. We take care when writing each endorsement to walk you through our decision-making process so you know why we choose one candidate over another. Here, we've rounded up all our endorsements for the 2018 midterm elections. Got questions about this process? Email us at


Pennsylvania Governor: Gov. Tom Wolf (D)

A mild-mannered, steady-handed incumbent is facing former Republican State Sen. Scott Wagner, a brash, pugilistic candidate.

We'll take the calm one.  Gov. Tom Wolf is our pick.

He gets credit for keeping a consistent focus on the opioid crisis, restored funds to education, signed an opioid disaster declaration, increased the minimum wage for state employees and employees of state contractors, and expanded Medicaid coverage.

Wolf gets our endorsement not just for his demeanor, but because he has made strides on some important issues in the face of a some serious disadvantages.

>> Read our full endorsement of Tom Wolf for Pennsylvania governor.

U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania: Sen. Bob Casey  (D)

Representative Lou Barletta, the U.S. representative from Hazelton, is challenging the democratic incumbent.  Our choice is a third term for Senator Bob Casey. 

Casey, a centrist, has moved leftward on certain issues, such as guns and same-sex marriage.  And in the last two years, Casey has seemed energized, mainly in defense of our country's tradition as a nation of immigrants.  In his time in the Senate, he has taken on causes that often don't get headlines but are vitally important — such as allowing states to offer people with disabilities tax-exempt savings accounts, investing in repairs of bridges off the federal highway system, and requiring transparency and accountability in investigation of sexual assault cases on campuses.

>> Read our full endorsement of Bob Casey for U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania’s First Congressional District: Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R)

The new First Congressional District in Pennsylvania puts a moderate Republican to the test: Can he win over a few Democrats to keep his seat in Congress? Contending for the seat is Scott Wallace — a former public servant and current philanthropist. But Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick  deserves a second term.

Fitzpatrick puts an emphasis on bipartisanship. He visited the Fifth District of New Jersey to campaign for fellow Problem Solver, Rep. Josh Gottheimer — a Democrat. In the current political reality, that is almost hard to believe. Fitzpatrick sponsored a bill to protect the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller, voted against the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, which earned him the endorsement of gun-control groups, and believes that the minimum wage in every community should be whatever a livable wage in that community is.

>> Read our full endorsement of Brian Fitzpatrick for Pennsylvanian's First Congressional District.

Philadelphia County Ballot Question: Capital fund borrowing

Voters in Philadelphia County will see one ballot question asking them to decide if the city should borrow $181,000,000 for the maintenance of of public infrastructure, spaces, and facilities.  This ballot question is routine — a similar one passed in 2016 with a 67 percent of the vote. A bill that City Council passed and the Mayor signed in September put the question on the ballot. It also details how the money will be spent: $5.2 million for transit, $37 million for streets and sanitation, $98 million for municipal buildings, $27 million for parks, recreation, and museums, and $15 million for economic and community development.  We recommend voting YES on the question.

New Jersey

U.S. Senator: Sen. Bob Menendez (D)

In a dismal election with bad choices, a former pharmaceutical company executive is the republican challenger for New Jersey's U.S. Senate seat. The incumbent, Bob Menendez, has betrayed public trust and showed poor judgment in accepting gifts and doing favors to a donor whom he describes as a "friend." And still, because of his record in Congress, we reluctantly endorse him.

Menendez has fought for gun safety, civil rights, and a woman's right to choose. He is a co-author of the Affordable Care Act and an early advocate of treating the opioid epidemic as a public health crisis. An attorney, he helped craft legislation protecting immigrant children brought to the country by their parents. He kept flood insurance prices down and forced the federal government to pay more than $300 million in flood claims it had previously denied. Since his earliest days in the House, he has protected Social Security and Medicare.

If New Jersey gives him a second chance and elects him to a third term, he has an unwavering obligation to act with integrity at all times.

>> Read our full endorsement of Bob Menendez for U.S. Senator from New Jersey. 

New Jersey’s Second Congressional District: State Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D)

In New Jersey's Second Congressional District, which spans Cape May and Camden counties, Democratic State Senator Jeff Van Drew is running against Republican Seth Grossman — a former Atlantic City politician who is not enjoying the support of his own party due to a slew of bigoted comments.

Jeff Van Drew is a welcome contrast and we enthusiastically endorse him.

His impressive command of issues comes from more than 25 years of serving the district, first as municipal leader and eventually as a state senator, since 2008. His moderate tendencies reflect the right-leaning district. For example,  he authored a bill that would hamstring offshore oil drillers and supports alternative energy. But he supported a natural gas pipeline, which would run through the ecologically-fragile Pinelands forest.

>> Read our full endorsement of Jeff Van Drew for New Jersey's Second Congressional District. 

New Jersey’s Third Congressional District: Andy Kim (D)

In 2016,  we endorsed Representative Tom MacArthur for a second term in Congress. But during that term, the moderate has lost his way.

His young opponent, Andy Kim is our choice for the Third Congressional District.

Kim, a Rhodes Scholar who worked for the state department, promises that he won't accept corporate political donations and promises daily disclosure of all meetings and votes. He would require health insurers to cover preexisting conditions and prohibit them from charging older people extra. He is pro-choice, pro-environment, and wants to give tax credits to businesses for hiring workers at decent salaries

>> Read our full endorsement of Andy Kim for New Jersey's Third Congressional District. 

>> READ MORE: The Inquirer Politics' Team Election Guide for Pa., N.J., and Delaware races