The Des Moines Register editorial board on Tuesday published a glowing review of Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), praising the presidential hopeful as “a formidable opponent” among the eye-popping list of Democrats jockeying for the White House.
“She is smart. She is compassionate. She understands complex issues,” the board wrote. “And she makes no apologies for being a bulldog who earned a reputation for being tough on wrongdoers, including gang members and drug traffickers.”
Though Harris’ supporters have praised her record on crime, which dates back to her time as a prosecutor, district attorney then state attorney in California, critics believe it’s flawed at best.
Skeptics have also questioned Harris’ past handling police accountability. In 2015, she supported the use of body cameras but opposed statewide regulatory standards on the matter. Harris additionally stood against a bill requiring the attorney general to investigate police shootings.
However, the board argued that Harris had “prioritized addressing racial bias and ensuring procedural justice,” also defending her approach to truancy by drawing a correlation between young men absent from class and those killed by gun violence.
“This is not a woman who is afraid to take on issues, and while she was sometimes light on details about how she would accomplish her goals, she has an independence not commonly seen in candidates trying to cater to everyone.”
The board is known to lean left, backing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the presidency in 2016, though it broke from its decadeslong trend of Democratic endorsements with its 2012 endorsement of Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah). Prior to that election, the last Republican the board had supported was Richard Nixon in 1972.
The board’s latest opinion piece is not a full endorsement, but part of the paper’s “First Impressions” series, which gauges candidates’ potential based on “get-to-know-you” sessions.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.