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Opinion

Murray, McMorris Rodgers for Congress

The two congressional races on Spokane County ballots feature the 5th Congressional District and a U.S. Senate seat.

U.S. Senate: You won’t see U.S. Sen. Patty Murray on TV pounding the partisan talking points and widening the divide. That doesn’t mean she isn’t partisan (she is a close adviser to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid), but it shows she has the temperament to keep the door open to negotiation and compromise. The popular narrative is that Congress is hopelessly gridlocked, but it’s only partly true.

In 2013, Murray, as head of the Senate Budget Committee, embarked on important negotiations with her counterpart in the House, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc. The two previous years featured the destructive politics of “fiscal cliffs” and government shutdowns. Murray took flak from the left and Ryan took it from the right, but the deal they forged led to significant deficit reduction and ended the damage wrought by shutdown politics.

In 2015, Murray worked with U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., to replace the widely panned No Child Left Behind Act with a law that reformed unrealistic education accountability standards and gave states more control. This year, she worked with Sen. Roy Blount, R-Mo., on a compromise to achieve funding to combat the Zika virus.

Murray also works hard for the state, including Eastern Washington. She wrote the Transportation Infrastructure Grants and Economic Reinvestment Act. The state has received more than a dozen TIGER grants, including funding for the North Spokane Freeway. She pushed for the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, an important trade tool for the state.

She remains to the left of the editorial board on fiscal and labor issues, but she has been an effective leader.

Murray’s opponent, Chris Vance, says if voters want to end the partisan gridlock, they must elect politicians like him. He’s the kind of moderate Republican who’s been drummed out of the party. Vance is critical of this trend, especially the GOP’s embrace of Donald Trump and the tea party caucus.

Nonetheless, Vance has his own partisan background to overcome as the former state chairman of the Republican Party. In recent years, he’s been a lobbyist, consultant and political pundit. We like his centrist views on immigration, trade, deficit reduction and entitlement reform. We don’t agree with his view that health care was in decent shape before the Affordable Care Act.

Vance is an engaging commentator, and we hope he keeps spreading the message of Republican centrism. However, Sen. Murray is not the best case study for partisan gridlock, and is the best choice in this race.

Fifth District: In the primary, we recommended voters advance Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and independent Dave Wilson, who ended up finishing third behind Democratic candidate Joe Pakootas.

Rep. McMorris Rodgers gets our endorsement. You can read the primary editorial here.


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