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The first Tuesday in November is a big deal here in the United States. It’s our chance to choose our representatives and leaders. It’s our chance to shape the future of our state and nation.

There are a lot of decisions to be made, but the most important decision is the decision to exercise our right to vote. Whether it’s by mail or by ballot box, make sure you cast your ballot on Nov. 6.

To that end, the, Chronicle editorial board offers some suggestions about those seeking statewide office. Our endorsements in local races and for the U.S. Senate are forthcoming.

U.S. House

Montana has only one representative in the U.S. House, making this a critical office. Rep. Denny Rehberg is vacating this post in his quest to win a U.S. Senate seat. And his successor should be Republican Steve Daines. Daines, a multi-generational native Montanan from Bozeman, has a strong business background and is well versed and articulate on the issues critical to many Montanans: the creation of clean, good-paying jobs and reducing our nation’s spending. His opponent, longtime state legislator Kim Gillan, is also a strong candidate who speaks with passion about the state. But this one should go to Daines.

One troubling aspect to Daines’ candidacy is the fact that he has signed the infamous “No New Tax Pledge” pushed by the destructive politics of activist Grover Norquist. This pledge just ties a politician’s hands at a time when we need all the tools at hand to bring down our nation’s debt. We urge Daines to rethink his support for the pledge.

Governor

Montanans are very fortunate this year in that there are two very worthy candidates seeking the post of governor, which is being vacated by the term-limited Brian Schweitzer. But this one should go to Democrat Steve Bullock. Bullock has served as state attorney general for the past four years. In that capacity he has demonstrated his ability to effectively administer a large organization – the Department of Justice. He has also pushed some important initiatives, specifically those related to repeat DUI offenders and a prescription drug registry that will prevent abuses of the prescription drug process.

This was a tough call, because Republican Rick Hill, a former U.S. congressman, has a lot to offer. His ideas about speeding up the permitting process for natural resource industries is worth serious discussion. And his suggestions for priority budgeting that will force agencies to justify their expenditures could add efficiency to state government. But Bullock’s experience carries the day. He has been a first-rate attorney general for Montana, and we believe he will serve similarly as governor.

Attorney General

Republican Tim Fox is facing Democrat Pam Bucy in this race, and Bucy deserves the nod for this important office. Fox is a strong candidate, but he’s no match for Bucy’s depth of experience. She served as deputy attorney general under Mike McGrath. She has also served as chief legal counsel for the state Department of Labor and has worked as an attorney in private practice. Her advocacy for child victims of crime is admirable and she will serve the state well as the top law enforcement officer.

Public Service Commission

Incumbent Democrat John Vincent is challenged by Republican Roger Koopman for this important regulatory office, and Vincent should get another term. Vincent has demonstrated his willingness to cross party lines when he sees merit in an argument and has a firm grasp of complex regulatory energy issues facing our state. Koopman, who was the only candidate who declined to meet with the, Chronicle’s editorial board, has campaigned on a mostly one-note song of questioning Vincent’s attendance at PSC meetings. But Vincent has lived up to the obligations of the office through teleconferencing when necessary to enable him to care for his disabled wife. He should be sent back to the PSC for another term.

We should be grateful for all candidates who put themselves through the meat grinder of political campaigns to offer voters a choice. And we should all show our gratitude by voting in this critical election.

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