Experience counts: Congressman Mike Doyle deserves renomination

It’s good for voters to have choices, particularly in contests with long-serving incumbents. But when a choice provides no real alternative on policy or conduct in office, voters have to wonder why a challenger even bothers.

That’s the situation before Democrats in the 14th Congressional District, where U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle of Forest Hills is opposed in the April 26 primary by Janis Brooks of North Versailles. Mr. Doyle, 62, has been a member of the House since 1995, while Ms. Brooks, 66, is pastor of the Church of Inclusion International Ministries in North Versailles and founder of Citizens to Abolish Domestic Apartheid, a nonprofit that offers food to the elderly and an after-school program.

Although this is Ms. Brooks’ third straight run for the nomination, she remains a political unknown in the district, which includes the city of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County’s central and eastern suburbs, plus Arnold and New Kensington in Westmoreland County. Mr. Doyle won 80 percent of the vote in the 2012 primary and 84 percent in 2014. It’s hard to see how the outcome will be different this time.

The candidates have liberal views on various issues, and Ms. Brooks would likely have a voting record similar to Mr. Doyle’s. Both are concerned about income inequality and want to help those who find difficulty getting a job. Both want tough regulations on the environment and strict laws to curb the flow of guns to criminals. They agree on the need for a strong defense and a responsible federal budget.

The challenger does not fault the House veteran for negative performance, but she says it’s time the district had a fresh voice. We agree that an entrenched incumbent in Washington should be subject to scrutiny. Mr. Doyle emphasizes his efforts to promote development, employment and innovation in the Pittsburgh region, though many voters would be hard-pressed to classify him as a visionary political leader.

Yet with no Republican on the ballot, the Democratic nominee will likely be the next representative of the 14th District. 

Although it’s worth applauding Ms. Brooks’ good works in the community, we see no reason to reject a known quantity, whose seniority in the House has potential benefits for the district. The Post-Gazette endorses Mike Doyle for renomination.