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Michael Baumgartner

A candidate for State Senator, Legislative District 6 (West Plains and western Spokane) in the 2014 Nov. 4 Washington General Election

Party: Republican

Age: 42

City: Spokane, WA

MICHAEL BAUMGARTNER Education: Master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University, 2002; bachelor's degree from WSU in economics, minors in math and French, 1999. Attended Gonaga Prep for two years before returning with his family to Pullman, where he graduated high school in 1995. Work experience: Worked for office of the Crown Prince of Dubai as economic development adviser for about a year starting in June 2002. Worked two years starting in the spring of 2003 for i4, a company that hoped to build a telecommunication network in Saudi Arabia. Worked as Dubai-based business consultant for about a year. Worked as consultant for Hecla Mining related to gold mine in Venezuela for several months in 2006. Worked as economics officer for the U.S. State Department in Iraq for about a year starting in spring 2007. Worked for Civilian Police International, a State Department contractor, in Afghanistan on a counter-narcotics program for about eight months starting in December 2008. Currently is a consultant, teaching troops about economic development issues before deployment. Political experience: Elected to state Senate in 2010, unseating Democratic incumbent Chris Marr. Unsuccessfully challenged Democratic U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell in 2012. Family: Wife; three children.

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On this race:

What is your top priority and how specifically would you achieve that?

Baumgartner: As the vice chair of the Senate Budget Committee, I will continue to prioritize balanced, bipartisan budgets that reform state government and focus on education. I’ve helped bring all-day kindergarten to our community, build a new medical school and stop college tuition increases for the first time in 30 years.

Cowan: I will provide the moderate and responsible leadership that this district needs to thrive. I will create jobs and invest in our schools and our infrastructure. To ensure our region’s competitive edge, we need to strengthen the energy, aerospace, health care and agricultural sectors without delay.

The state Supreme Court recently held the Legislature in contempt for failing to make enough progress in fully funding public education. How should the Legislature react to this ruling?

Baumgartner: The Legislature should make improving education a top priority not because the Supreme Court tells it to, but because it’s the right thing to do. We’ve doubled education spending but it’s not simply about spending more money, it’s about reform to make sure every student has a great teacher.

Cowan: The Legislature must act. Our children are counting on us to produce a road map to success. By tweeting combative messages and failing to adequately fund K-12 education, my opponent has continually proven he is unwilling to work toward student success.

The Legislature failed once again to pass a long-negotiated, multibillion-dollar transportation package. How would you ensure the Spokane area gets the funding it wants for important projects?

Baumgartner: I’ve been the leader in the Senate ensuring that instead of continuing to pour Eastern Washington’s money into boondoggle tunnel and bridge projects in Seattle, we finally get our north-south freeway built. The state needs to reform transportation spending to save taxpayers money.

Cowan: My opponent and his colleagues in the Senate failed even to produce a transportation bill. After nearly seven years without a transportation package, it is clearly time to try a new approach. I will vigorously work across the aisle to ensure that Eastern Washington receives its fair share.

Spokane voters overwhelmingly called for independent police oversight, but city leaders say full implementation would be blocked by labor laws that give final say to employees. What, if any, changes or clarifications should the Legislature consider?

Baumgartner: The voters of Spokane are absolutely right, we do need independent police oversight. I’ve worked with our local sheriff to co-sponsor legislation that would increase accountability and oversight among law enforcement. If a law enforcement officer abuses the public trust, we should have laws that allow them to be fired.

Cowan: I have met multiple times with city leadership. Never have they suggested a change to state law. From my conversations with them, it is my understanding that the ombudsman is independent with investigatory authority.

What makes you the best candidate for this position?

Baumgartner: I have a proven record working for solutions both parties can agree on: all-day kindergarten, college tuition freezes and the medical school. A vote for my opponent would put the same old, tired Seattle liberals in charge of the Senate. That wouldn’t be good for Spokane or taxpayers statewide.

Cowan: Our Senate is at a standstill. If we are going to successfully emerge from the recession, progress is paramount. As a local business owner who has done the hard work of building a company and creating jobs, I understand what small business requires to deliver sustainable, family-wage jobs.

Election results

Candidate Votes Pct
Michael Baumgartner (R) 28,299 57.50 %
Rich Cowan (D) 20,935 42.50 %

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Competitors

Rich Cowan

Democrat

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