Electing members of congress is a bit like buying a life insurance policy; only over time do they pay off. Lois Capps, a solidly liberal Democrat, has represented Santa Barbara in Congress since Bill Clinton was president. That gives her seniority, which, in the nation’s capitol, still counts for a lot, especially when Capps’s party controls the White House and, at least for the time being, Congress. Capps has been voted the “nicest” member of Congress three times in a row by her peers, an achievement that might otherwise be cause for alarm. But Capps has consistently matched her quiet congeniality with hard work, solid constituent service, and a progressive voting record that Santa Barbara residents have come to take for granted. Capps was one of the few members of Congress to vote against the war authorization act that enabled President George W. Bush to invade Iraq under what’s since been exposed as a mantle of lies and contortions. Since then, she’s played the role of loyal skeptic about Obama’s war in Afghanistan, though we would prefer more skepticism and less loyalty.
On immigration, Capps has always been more alive to the human dimension of the issue, and as such has supported the DREAM Act, which offers a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants brought to this country as young children and who have since excelled. A strong supporter of health care reform, Capps courageously inserted herself into the political muck when it appeared the politics of abortion funding might derail the historic health insurance legislation. And when Capps brings home the bacon, usually it comes with a tint of green, with the $2.4 million she just secured for a Carpinteria new wave-surge-energy technology or the $87 million she snagged so that tiny Los Osos can finally settle its sewage problems. We were disappointed to learn that Capps donated $10,000 to state Proposition 27, which would return to party bosses the power to redraw political districts and destroy the special citizens’ commission established to reform that much abused process. Aside from this, Capps has a stellar record. Accordingly, she would do herself and her constituents a big favor by debating her two opponents. Contrary to what her political advisors say, debate remains very much part of the democratic process.