Editorial: Wilson best positioned to challenge McMorris Rodgers in 5th District

Cathy McMorris Rodgers is seeking her sixth term representing the 5th Congressional District.

Although we are endorsing her candidacy in the Aug. 5 primary, we also recommend voters choose Independent Dave Wilson from among three challengers, one of whom will advance to the general election.

Joseph Pakootas is carrying the Democratic standard. Republican Tom Horne is running as a conservative’s conservative alternative to McMorris Rodgers.

The incumbent has climbed to No. 4 in the GOP House hierarchy as chairwoman of the party’s conference committee. She did not look to advance when Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s surprise primary defeat in June shook up the party batting order.

McMorris Rodgers is an ally of embattled Speaker John Boehner, which means she’s well-placed to influence policy. The party gave her the honor of responding to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech in January.

But her failure to support the U.S. Export-Import Bank is a troubling reminder her conservatism sometimes causes her to lose track of what is best for her district and state. She has the stature to do more.

We narrowly recommend Wilson over Pakootas, mostly on the strength of his commitment to honor the “I” in Independent.

The founder of Interface College is capping campaign contributions at $500, and he pledges to hold monthly town hall meetings and respond to constituents within 24 hours. Rather than joining either party’s caucus, he would attempt to rally perhaps two dozen centrists into a bloc large enough to break the deadlock between Republicans and Democrats stuck in the red zones despite the preponderance of voters at midfield (his analogy).

Wilson says he’s a fiscal hawk ready to freeze the federal budget, then initiate gradual rollbacks. The Affordable Care Act has defects, he said, but called the 50-plus House votes for its repeal by McMorris Rodgers “nutty.”

He supports the Senate-passed immigration bill and would raise the gas tax to refill the depleted Highway Trust Fund.

Pakootas not only owns and operates an Inchelium convenience store with his wife, he was largely responsible for a restructuring of deficit-ridden Colville Tribe businesses into a profitable enterprise with rapidly increasing revenues. And he was one of the lead plaintiffs in a successful federal lawsuit to stop pollution of the Columbia River originating in Canada.

He wants to implement more incentives for small business, rebuild decaying infrastructure and tweak Obamacare, which he says is helping many in the district.

The gruff Horne, a former U.S. Marine who retired from a job with Pacific Gas Transmission 10 years ago, dismisses McMorris Rodgers as a “prop.” He says the best way to stop illegal immigration is to strictly enforce requirements that employers check worker identification.

Horne would eliminate the Department of Education and empanel a committee to develop a budget plan that includes spending cuts and more revenues to achieve his first priority, reducing debt.

A contest with the well-financed McMorris Rodgers will be uphill for any one of her opponents. But Cantor’s defeat showed anything is possible. We think Wilson is best prepared to pull off another upset.

The Spokesman-Review Editorial Board

Members of The Spokesman-Review editorial board help to determine The Spokesman-Review's position on issues of interest to the Inland Northwest. Board members are:

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