Thank you for your interesting and insightful article ("Congress: The Dating Game," March 15). Although the Democratic candidates have a number of similarities, I was struck by their differences, not only in terms of style and experience, but also emphasis and world view. Our challenges are huge and we need leaders with vision, guts and independence. Norman Solomon is the only candidate who has exhibited all those qualities.
Having spent years working to address the problem of poverty -- both in the nonprofit sector and as mayor of Eureka -- it is important to me that our next congressperson understand and prioritize this issue. After talking to Solomon at length about poverty and economic fairness, it is clear that he best comprehends the problems we face and has the experience to be an effective advocate.

As the founder and former executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy (IPA), Solomon brings the unique perspective of someone who understands national politics but isn't a Washington insider. Founded in 1997 with offices in Northern California and the National Press Building in Washington, D.C., IPA's mission is to facilitate media access "for those whose voices are commonly excluded or drowned out by government or corporate-backed institutions." Solomon will bring that same approach to Congress.

To excel in the new "open primary" system, candidates will need to appeal to voters outside their party while retaining the support of their political base. This is another reason to support Solomon. He makes no bones about his commitment to the values that progressives and liberals hold dear, but he also has a strong independent streak. This is appealing not only to Democrats, but also independent voters, Libertarians, Greens and moderate Republicans.

People of all political beliefs are increasingly fed up with politics as usual -- the corporate money, the career politicians and the blind partisanship. Norman Solomon understands that many of the greatest challenges of our day are not ideological. His background as a public-interest advocate, media watchdog, author and activist have prepared him to go to Washington, D.C., as a populist champion for the common people.

Peter LaVallee, Eureka

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