Voters in Tennessee, Georgia and eight other states will be casting ballots in primaries and caucuses two days from now, on so-called "Super Tuesday" -- arguably the most important day in the primary season.
Here are the Free Press' recommendations in the national and Hamilton County races.
Santorum for president
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum stands out in a number of ways from the Republican field that is seeking to replace liberal President Barack Obama.
Santorum sees with clarity the urgent need to repeal ObamaCare. ObamaCare is radically expanding the federal government's role in and control over health care, and will harm economic growth once its provisions are fully implemented.
Among other things, it will punish many small businesses when they hire new workers. Starting in 2014, employers with more than 50 full-time workers will have to begin offering health insurance or else pay an annual penalty of $2,000 per full-time worker, excluding their first 30 workers. That ensures that some small companies will simply avoid expanding to keep from having to pay potentially huge yearly fines. That's a job-killer.
ObamaCare's unfunded mandates have prompted a majority of states to sue to have it overturned, but it is not certain the Supreme Court will overturn it. So Santorum knows that it is vital that we have a president who will lead the drive to repeal ObamaCare. And he has opposed ObamaCare and all it entails more consistently than either former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney or former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has. In fact, Romney's Massachusetts health care reform actually served as the model on which ObamaCare was based.
Of great current importance to Americans who are paying near-record-high gasoline prices, Santorum would immediately begin lifting Obama's irresponsible restrictions on U.S. oil production -- both to lower our need for oil from anti-American regimes and to grow jobs at home.
Of equal importance, he would reverse the spend-borrow-and-spend-again policies of Obama -- policies that have led to a $15.3 trillion national debt, hindered our economy and failed to help millions of Americans suffering grinding, long-term unemployment. Santorum wants rapid spending cuts and tax relief to get our economy moving again.
Santorum is also solidly conservative on social issues, including his opposition to abortion -- an issue on which Romney's views have unfortunately wavered over the years.
America needs a soundly conservative candidate to provide voters the clearest alternative to Obama. Santorum is that candidate, and we urge voters to make him the Republican nominee.
Coppinger for county mayor
Jim Coppinger's low-key but capable service since he was appointed Hamilton County mayor a little over a year ago makes him the clear choice in Tuesday's primary.
He has promoted economic development and has charted a conservative fiscal course.
We urge voters to turn out for him in high numbers.
McClure for County Commission
Mitch McClure, pastor of Middle Valley Church of God, has been a good addition to the Hamilton County Commission since he was appointed to fill Coppinger's District 3 seat last year.
While he faces rightly motivated challengers, we see no reason why he should not remain in office. We recommend a strong vote for him.
Bennett for property assessor
Hamilton County is fortunate to have had the able service of Bill Bennett as assessor of property for nearly 20 years.
That service makes him deserving of being returned to office enthusiastically by voters.