Edward L. Blanton, the Republican candidate running for attorney general against the Democratic incumbent, J. Joseph Curran Jr., is a competent, respected lawyer and public-spirited citizen who has raised several legitimate questions about Mr. Curran's record in four years in office.
Mr. Blanton says the attorney general has not mobilized his office to deal with violent crime. He says Mr. Curran has not pursued environmental lawbreakers. He says Mr. Curran has deferred to his assistants instead of being a leader. He says Mr. Curran has not been a proper watchdog of state government. And he says the incumbent has refused to debate these and other issues with him before the voters.
Mr. Curran, of all people, should be aware of the importance of public debate in explaining the sometimes technical and lawyerly activities of the attorney general. Four years ago he won the job, and the public learned something about the legal affairs of what is actually its own law firm, because Mr. Curran took part in numerous debates. Now armed with incumbency and a campaign treasury four times the size of Mr. Blanton's, Mr. Curran gives the impression of aloofness -- of an unwillingness publicly to defend his record.