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McMorris Rodgers to Inslee: Boosting trade is good, carbon reduction plans bad

OLYMPIA – Republican members of Congress from Eastern Washington think it’s great their Democratic governor is helping to boost foreign trade, but they want him to back off on carbon reduction plans and any efforts that could block new coal terminals.

A spokesman for Gov. Jay Inslee said their opposition to his efforts to cut carbon pollution isn’t surprising, but they are wrong in implying Inslee has made up his mind on proposals to build new seaports to ship coal to Asia after it has been hauled across the state by rail.

“He hasn’t indicated a position on those, but he has asked for a thorough review,” David Postman said Wednesday.

The letter from Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Dan Newhouse begins by commending Inslee for a “recognition that international trade is vital to the economic health of our state” and calls for strengthened trade ties, particularly to the Pacific Rim. Dated Wednesday, it comes on the eve of Inslee’s nine-day trade mission to South Korea and Japan but doesn’t specifically mention the trip, which starts Friday.

The letter quickly pivots, however, to criticism of other activities.

“We are very concerned that certain proposals and policies promoted by your administration do not align with pro-growth trade policies,” the representatives write.

Efforts to reduce carbon pollution from energy sources are unnecessary because the state already gets much of its power from low-emission energy like hydroelectric dams. Carbon reduction regulations would be expensive for businesses, commuters and utilities and would “place our job creators at an increased disadvantage compared to both foreign competitors and other states,” they wrote.

“Their opposition to action on carbon is pretty much the standard you hear from industry,” Postman said.

Inslee signed a transportation package with new taxes that would reduce money to mass transit if his administration were to develop new rules on carbon reduction. He has instructed the Ecology Department to explore reduction strategies within current laws. He has also said he will keep asking legislators of both parties to support carbon reduction.

 McMorris Rodgers and Newhouse wrote they also were concerned with “potential impediments” to proposed export terminals near Bellingham and Longview, which have been proposed to increase shipments of coal across the Pacific to China and other Asian countries. They cite support for the terminals from farm and business groups and labor unions, although they don’t mention the projects are opposed by environmental groups, some tribes and communities along the rail routes.

The Ecology Department has ordered an extended environmental impact report on the terminals that studies not just the effects on the area surrounding the facilities, which is a standard approach the federal government is taking. The state also wants a report on the impacts of digging it up in Wyoming, transporting it across Washington and other states by train, shipping it to Asia and  the increased greenhouse gases from burning it in those countries. The draft report is due later this year.

The governor but hadn’t read the letter Wednesday afternoon because it was faxed to his office after he had left for Pullman for a memorial tribute to late Washington State University President Elson Floyd. McMorris Rodgers also attended that event.

He will eventually see the letter and could reply with a letter of his own or in conversations with the representatives, Postman said.


Documents:

Patty Murray says she’ll support Obama’s Iran deal

At least one of Washington's U.S. senators will support President Barack Obama's nuclear energy deal with Iran when Congress reconvenes next month.

Patty Murray announced her position on the controversial deal in a lengthy statement released Tuesday. The longtime Bothell lawmaker said she met several times with Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry to discuss the deal, and that she wanted to make sure Iran could not develop a nuclear weapon, that the deal did not rely on the promises of the Middle Eastern country alone and that the U.S. aggressively pursued a diplomatic solution to its issues with Iran.

"Guided by these principles, I will be voting to support the agreement to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. I will vote against the resolution of disapproval, and, if needed, I will vote against overriding President Obama’s veto," Murray said in the statement.

Murray said the deal was not perfect, but was necessary as "the best chance we have at a strong diplomatic solution, (and) it puts us in a stronger position no matter what Iran chooses to do."

You can read Murray's full statement on her position here

The Associated Press reports that Murray is the 29th Democratic senator to announce her support of the Iran deal. That number is significant because 34 Senators would be needed to strike down a resolution negating the Iran deal, which Republican lawmakers have vowed they will pursue when Congress reconvenes after Labor Day. Among those legislators is Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who said she had many problems with the Iran deal at a town hall held earlier this month in Spokane

Sen. Maria Cantwell has so far remained mum on how she'll vote regarding the deal. She told Politico in July, before lawmakers went home for the summer, that she'd likely take her time before announcing a decision.

At least two prominent Democrats have said they can't support the deal with Iran, chief among them Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York. Schumer said in his statement earlier this month, announcing he was a "no" vote on the Iran deal, that he saw "serious weaknesses" in the agreement. 

McMorris Rodgers remembers Elson Floyd on House floor

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers joined the area lawmakers mourning the death of Washington State University President Elson Floyd in a speech delivered on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday.

"He had the dream of making our dreams possible, and turning our aspirations into reality," McMorris Rodgers said.

You can watch the entire video of McMorris Rodgers' statement below.

 

This morning I spoke on the House floor in memory of WSU President Dr. Elson Floyd. Dr. Floyd was a giant for Eastern Washington. He embodied the values we seek in our leaders. He was visionary. He was kindhearted. And he was a fearless and passionate advocate for higher education, our region, and our state. It has been my privilege to know him and call him friend. Thank you, Elson, for your tireless work. Rest in peace.

Posted by Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers on Thursday, June 25, 2015

McMorris Rodgers says Facebook kudos for Obamacare mostly about parts with bipartisan support

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers said she’s reviewed some of the stories shared on her Facebook page praising the Affordable Care Act after the congresswoman asked for stories showing its down side.

The Eastern Washington congresswoman, who has voted dozens of times to repeal all or parts of President Barack Obama’s signature legislation, asked users earlier this month to share their stories of difficulties with the law, paired with a picture of the president holding cupcakes and looking sullen.

“This week marks the 5th anniversary of #Obamacare being signed into law,” the post reads. “Whether it's turned your tax filing into a nightmare, you’re facing skyrocketing premiums, or your employer has reduced your work hours, I want to hear about it.”

Instead, many users shared stories of how they benefitted from the law by receiving previously unavailable coverage or seeing a decline in their monthly premiums.

McMorris Rodgers said Monday that many of the success stories seemed to be centered on reforms that both parties agreed on, rather than her concerns with the health care package.

An unusual split in NW delegation

When congressional votes are close, they usually break down on partisan lines with Republicans in Washington and Idaho voting one way and Democrats the other.

Not the case with yesterday's House vote on the omnibus spending bill, technically known as the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers voted yes, along with other Republicans from Washington, but Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, voted no.

That put Labrador, one of the House's more prominent tea party conservatives, on the same side as Washington Democrats, including Seattle's Rep. Jim McDermott, who regularly ranks up there with the House's most liberal. But not all liberal Ds voted no; for example Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who is also the head of the Democratic National Committee, voted yes.

As might be expected, McMorris Rodgers, Labrador and McDermott all had different things to say about the "Cromnibus" as it is being called.To see their different takes, continue inside the blog.

McMorris Rodgers re-elected to GOP post

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers was re-elected the House Republican Conference chairwoman today by GOP members who returned all their top leaders for the upcoming Congress.

House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Majority Whip Steve Scalise were also re-elected. The conference chairmanship is considered the Number Four position in leadership.

McMorris Rodgers won re-election last week to a sixth term with about 60 percent of the vote. Her Democratic opponent Joe Pakootas unsuccessfully challenged her leadership position as a sign that she was more in touch with Washington, D.C., than the voters of her Eastern Washington district. McMorris Rodgers countered that it gave her "a place at the table" to raise local and regional issues when legislation was being discussed.

Mapping the vote: Spokane County votes for Congress

The pattern for the U.S. House candidates in Spokane County was similar to those for most county offices.

Democratic challenger Joe Pakootas captured some precincts in the city of Spokane, Republican incumbent Cathy McMorris Rodgers won almost everywhere else.

For a closer look at the results, click on the PDF document below.

 


Documents:

If you missed the last McMorris Rodgers v. Pakootas debate. . .

You can watch it on the web, at KHQ's Decision 2014.

The debate was sponsored by Greater Spokane Incorporated, the Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce and the West Plains Chamber of Commerce Thursday afternoon at The Lincoln Center. The candidates touched on the economy, jobs, immigration and Fairchild Air Force Base.

Pakootas, McMorris Rodgers have final debate today

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Democratic challenger Joe Pakootas have their third and final debate today at the Lincoln Center.

The debate is sponsored by Greater Spokane Incorporated, the Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce and the West Plains Chamber of Commerce, a lineup that might be considered a home-field advantage for the incumbent.

The two debated in Walla Walla early this month, and at KSPS-TV last week. To see the video of the televised debate, click here.

The debate starts 4 p.m. at 1316 N. Lincoln St. Admission charge is $10.

Pakootas, McMorris Rodgers clash on Obamacare, casino

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and her Democratic challenger Joe Pakootas clashed over Obamacare, minimum wage, the best ways to bring jobs to the region and a new West Plains casino in their second debate of the campaign.

In a taped debate broadcast Thursday evening on KSPS-TV, Eastern Washington’s 5th Congressional District found a few areas of agreement. Both were wary of sending American ground troops to fight ISIS, although McMorris Rodgers said it was up to President Obama to make the case for any such strategy and Pakootas said part of the strategy needs to come from Congress which should stop “fingerpointing.” Both said they think the Veterans Administration needs a “change of culture” to do a better job of serving veterans.

But on most points, the five-term congresswoman and the chief executive officer of the Colville Tribal Federal Corp., disagreed sharply. . . 

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

McMorris Rodgers, Pakootas debate on Thursday

The second debate between Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Democratic challenger Joe Pakootas will air Thursday night on KSPS-TV and KXLY 920 AM radio.

Pakootas, the chief executive officer of the Colville Tribe Federal Corp., is running against McMorris Rodgers, a Republican seeking her sixth term in the House.

The debate was taped Wednesday evening for later broadcast on Channel 7, which will also feature it on its website.

GOP incumbents want Ebola travel restrictions, challengers say no

Republican House members from the Inland Northwest say the United States should consider travel restrictions for West African countries to guard against the spread of Ebola, but their Democratic challengers say that’s the wrong course of action. . . 

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, click here to continue inside the blog.

 

Sunday Spin: Where does McMorris Rodgers live?

At least once a week, and more frequently during election season, the newspaper gets a call, a letter, an e-mail or an online comment alleging a scandal about Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

Sometimes it comes in a conspiratorial query just above a whisper. Other times it’s stated as a verified fact, written in all-caps with multiple exclamation points. It might come from someone fairly inexperienced in politics who heard it from a friend who heard it from someone else – generally unnamed but usually “in the know.” Occasionally it comes from someone in the campaign wars long enough to be a bit more skeptical but doesn’t seem to care. . .

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

 

3rd debate for 5th Cong Dist scheduled

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Democratic challenger Joe Pakootas have added a third debate to their campaign schedules, agreeing to a second match-up in Spokane.

The debate, sponsored by three area business groups, will be at 4 p.m. Oct. 30 at the Lincoln Center. While it's open to the public, the groups are charging $10 per person to attend. Click here to register for the debate.

Pakootas had initially balked at the cost and timing of the debate, saying he thought it should be free and take place later in the day, after more people got off work. The price of the tickets dropped but the timing stayed the same. 

"That's part of compromise," he said Thursday. "It's important to the citizens in Spokane to have more debates."

Pakootas and McMorris Rodgers debated earlier this month in Walla Walla, (Youtube video below) and are scheduled for an hour-long debate that will air on Oct. 23 on KSPS-TV Channel 7.

Sponsoring the Oct. 30 debate are Greater Spokane Incorporated, the Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce and the West Plains Chamber of Commerce. 

 

Stories on gun inits, congressional race drawing comments

People who say there's no passion in this year's mid-term elections don't read the online newspaper's comments. 

It's not really a surprise, but Sunday's story on the two gun control initiatives and Tuesday's story on the 5th Congressional District race are generating significant comments elsewhere on this website.

Of course, almost anything to do with gun control sets off passionate debate in the region. And between the low approval ratings for Congress and the strong partisan feelings that Democrats have for incumbent Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, and the reciprocal regard Republicans have for any Democratic challenger, almost anything on the race can get the juices, and the comments, flowing.

Want to join the discussion? Be our guest.

The story on Initiatives 591 and 594 can be found here.

The story on the race between McMorris Rodgers and Joe Pakootas can be found here.

Sunday Spin: Say what No. 1

Last week’s debate between U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Democratic challenger Joe Pakootas veered briefly into immigration policy, with both candidates being asked to address the topic in the context of the need for farm labor and secure borders.

Pakootas tossed off a line that would have passed as a overworked cliché for most people, but it got him a laugh.

“We are a nation of immigrants,” said the former chairman of the Colville Confederated Tribes deadpanned, then added: “Most of us, anyway.”

Former McMorris Rodgers aide says scandal investigation expanding

A former aide to Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers contends an ethics investigation into her campaign for a House leadership post is ramping up with allegations that she retaliated against him. An attorney for the Spokane Republican calls the comments "more frivolous allegations and information."

Todd Winer, former press secretary and advisor to McMorris Rodgers, said in an e-mail today he was "breaking his silence" about what he calls the congresswoman's scandal. 

Winer cooperated with the Office of Congressional Ethics investigation of whether McMorris Rodgers and her staff misused resources in her campaign for  re-election in 2012 and for the office of Republican Conference chairman. (Editor's note: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated Winer filed the complaint.) After reviewing the allegations, the office referred the matter to the House Ethics Committee, which last March said it would continue to review it but did not set up a special subcommittee to investigate.

Although it was clear when the committee released ethics office report in March that Winer cooperated, he had not addressed it publicly before today, and still refuses to comment about it other than by e-mail. "It wouldn't have been appropriate for me to talk while I was still working in Congress," he wrote in response to a question about the timing. "Now that I've left Congress it's important for me to set the record straight."

Until recently, Winer was the press secretary for Rep. Raul Labrador, the Republican whose district includes North Idaho and shares much of its western border with McMorris Rodgers' Eastern Washington district. 

In his e-mail, he said the Ethics Committee staff continues to investigate the charges, and he has met with them as recently as last week. He contends the committee's investigation is expanding to include McMorris Rodgers' "efforts to intimidate and punish me for my cooperation with the (Office of Congressional Ethics) and the committee."

Elliot Berke, an attorney for McMorris Rodgers who filed a 49-page rebuttal to the office report, dismissed Winer's allegations as more the same.

"We are sorry to see more frivolous allegations and information from the same source," Berke wrote in an e-mail. "From the beginning the Congresswoman and her staff have fully cooperated with the Ethics Committee and will continue to do so should it have more questions."

The committee does not comment on ongoing investigations, its attorney Thomas Rust said. Nothing has changed from the committee's statement on March 24 that said the the chairman and top Democrat on the panel were extending the review, he said.

That was a step between impaneling a special subcommittee to investigate it and dismissing the complaint, causing some speculation the congresswoman was unlikely to face charges or sanctions.  But a check of the committee's website shows instances in which extended reviews have led to establishing an investigative subcommittee for a complaint.

There is no time limit for an extended review, and investigations can be carried over from one session to the next. In 2013, the most recent year for which statistics are available, the committee handled 58 complaints against House members.

Another look at some statements from McMorris Rodgers’ town hall

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers offered remarks Monday night at an annual town hall covering topics ranging from federal spending to climate policy. Here's a closer look at some of those statements, and the information that supports or rebuts them:

Statement: “Last January I had the honor of giving the Republican address after the president’s State of the Union … If you listened, I didn’t mention President Obama once. The reason was because I think, for so many  me included week after week hearing the division between Republicans and Democrats just attacking each other isn’t getting us where we want to be, and it creates a lot of frustration.”

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers did not mention Barack Obama by name in her 10-minute long rebuttal his State of the Union address in January. However, she did mention the office nine times, though whether many of those could be counted as attacks on his policies is debatable. A sampling of her mentions:

“Tonight the President made more promises that sound good, but won’t solve the problems actually facing Americans. We want you to have a better life. The President wants that too.”

“The President talks a lot about income inequality. But the real gap we face today is one of opportunity inequality… And with this Administration’s policies, that gap has become far too wide. We see this gap growing every single day.”

“Too many people are falling further and further behind because, right now, the President’s policies are making people’s lives harder.”

Watch the entirety of her address below (video provided by The New York Times):

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

McMorris Rodgers challenges Pakootas to 3 debates

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers challenged Democratic opponent Joe Pakootas today to three debates this fall, including two in Spokane. Pakootas said he planned to counter with a proposal to do at least two more in other areas around the large congressional district. . .

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

 

McMorris Rodgers mailer used photo without permission, friend says

A week after Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers sent a taxpayer-funded mailer with the wrong date for a public town hall meeting, residents in Liberty Lake are crying foul over another postcard they say used a woman's picture without her family's permission.

Tom Brattebo sent the following letter to the editor to the newspaper this weekend:

I'll add another view to the numerous letters regarding Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers' recently sent (at taxpayer expense) "Senior Update." The older woman in the picture was a friend of mine for over 35 years. She passed away in January of 2013. The picture was taken a few months prior. The lady was a retired school teacher and principal. She never wanted for medical care through her state retirement and Medicare programs. She did much to assist the less fortunate.

Permission was not solicited by the congresswoman's office for use of this photo. They had no knowledge that she had died.

And, I am married to a "Bette from Spokane."

Brattebo said the woman, pictured below with the congresswoman, is 91-year-old Maxine Davidson. Brattebo and his wife, Bette (not that Bette), befriended Davidson, a longtime teacher and principal for Spokane Public Schools. A memorial scholarship bears her name at Eastern Washington University, according to an obituary published in the Spokesman-Review.

Maxine Davidson shakes Cathy McMorris Rodgers' hand in a picture on a mailer sent out this month.
Photo courtesy of Tom Brattebo.

Brattebo's wife retained power of attorney for the retired school teacher, he said. She died in January 2013, a few weeks after the photo was taken with the congresswoman used in the mailer. The couple was not contacted by McMorris Rodgers' office before the mailer was sent. They found out about its use when it arrived in their mailbox last week, Tom Brattebo said.

"It was upsetting," Brattebo said. "She's been gone for a year and a half."

Davidson enjoyed the photo and kept a print of it in her room at the nursing facility where she lived, Brattebo said. But based on his perception of Davidson's politics, it's unlikely the Brattebos would have OK'd the picture's use in the material sent by the GOP congresswoman, Tom Brattebo said. 

The Brattebos contacted McMorris Rodgers' office, who apologized for the image's use. In a statement, a spokeswoman said the photo was published due to a breakdown in office policy.

There was a breakdown in our standard approval process at the staff level for use of this particular photo. Going forward the office will work to make certain the approval process is enforced which means in order to use a photo appropriate permissions of those featured will be obtained.

-Statement from Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers' office

McMorris Rodgers is scheduled to appear at an hour-long town hall meeting tonight at the Lincoln Center, 1316 N. Lincoln St. The event is scheduled to run from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. She faces challenger Joe Pakootas, a Democrat, in the November general election for the 5th Congressional District seat in the U.S. Congress.

Town hall date misprinted on McMorris Rodgers mailer

Staff for Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers said they realized too late their error in the published date for an upcoming Spokane town hall event on a mailer that hit the district last week.

A Cathy McMorris Rodgers mailer lists the wrong date for a town hall meeting

The glossy mailer lists the date of the event as Thursday, Aug. 18, from 5 to 6 p.m. at the Lincoln Center in north Spokane. But the 18th is a Monday, not a Thursday.

A spokeswoman confirmed the event will take place Monday, Aug. 18. The error was discovered after the mailers had been sent to the printer, the spokeswoman said, and a newsletter with the correct date was sent out electronically to digital subscribers of the congresswoman's emails.

McMorris Rodgers is expected to speak for an hour at the event Monday, which follows a strong showing in the four-person primary for the seat she's held since 2005. She last visited Spokane for a town hall a year ago, where many attendees wore their hearts on their sleeves.

WA Elex Congress: McMorris Rodger v. Pakootas; Didier v. Newhouse

Congress may be unpopular, but in Eastern Washington’s 5th Congressional District, five-term incumbent Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers was not with voters casting ballots in Tuesday’s primary.

McMorris Rodgers, a member of the GOP leadership in the House, finished the evening with more than half the votes cast in the 10-county district. She’ll face Democrat Joe Pakootas, the chief executive officer of the Colville Tribe’s business operations, in the general election and said she was encouraged by the strong showing in the four-way primary.

“To me, it indicates the trust and confidence people have in my representation,” she said. “I’m someone a lot of people can relate to.”

The job ratings for Congress overall have been low for months, but people often have a better opinion of their own representative. But earlier Tuesday, a Washington Post-ABC News poll said Americans are more dissatisfied with their member of Congress than ever. The survey said 51 percent reported they either strongly disapprove or somewhat disapprove of the way their representative is  handling his or her job.

McMorris Rodgers had about 51.7 percent of the votes after county elections offices shut down for the night. Most will count more ballots on Wednesday, and results will be official on Aug. 19.

Pakootas, who finished the night with about 29 percent of the vote, acknowledged he has a tough challenge ahead but declared himself excited and energized by surviving the primary.

“I think it will be easier to run head-to-head” where voters can compare their records on job creation and economic views, he said.

One challenge, he added, will be to get more Democrats to the polls. Outside of Spokane, many county and legislative offices are held by Republicans who have no or only token Democratic opposition.

Two other challengers were eliminated. Independent Dave Wilson, who built and then sold a computer training school, tried to appeal to the disaffected voters unhappy with both parties in general and Congress in particular. Republican Tom Horne, a volunteer firefighter and retired engineer, ran to the right of McMorris Rodgers, criticizing Republican leadership in the House and calling for more challenges to President Obama.

In Central Washington’s wild primary for an open seat, a pair of Republicans will compete in the state’s first all-GOP congressional general election race. Eltopia farmer and former NFL player Clint Didier, a Tea Party favorite, has a commanding lead in the 12-person field with about 30 percent of the vote. He was almost 3,000 votes ahead of former state Ag Director Dan Newhouse, of Yakima, a mainstream Republican. With all counties reporting election night tallies, Newhouse has twice the votes of the Estakio Beltran, a Democrat in third place who was slightly ahead of Janea Holmquist, a Moses Lake legislator who gave up her Senate seat to run for Congress.

The race drew an even dozen candidates – eight Republicans, two Democrats and two independents. The Republicans all ran as conservatives who believe in smaller government, lower taxes and gun rights. In resumes and approaches to government, they represented a wide spectrum from mainstream to Tea Party.

Under the state’s top two primary system, the candidates with the most and second-most votes advance to the general election regardless of party.

Bipartisan Ex-Im Bank bill introduced in Senate

Washington's two senators helped sponsor a bipartisan bill Thursday that would keep a major export program vital to the state from going out of business.

But Congress, which starts a five-week recess this weekend, will have to use parliamentary shortcuts to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank for five years before its current charter runs out on Sept. 30. . . 

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

Chud Wendle joins McMorris Rodgers’ local staff

Spokane-native Chud Wendle has joined Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers' local office as district director, the congresswoman announced this week.

"I was intrigued from day one, by the challenges and opportunities this job would present," Wendle said.

A member of the Wendle family that owns several area car dealerships, Chud Wendle was named McMorris Rodgers' district director and will be working out of her office in downtown Spokane. Wendle has spent the past six years in Pullman, where he worked in real estate and ran a frozen yogurt and cupcake shop with his wife, Cindy.

Wendle said his job description includes being the "eyes and ears" for the congresswoman in the district. He will handle legislative matters, though he will be available to assist with McMorris Rodgers' re-election campaign. She faces challengers

Tom HorneJoe Pakootas and Dave Wilson in the primary concluding next week. (Editor's note: Republican challenger Tom Horne was incorrectly left off the list of challengers in an earlier version of this post.)

The congresswoman approached Wendle to direct her district office, he said, about the time his wife took a new position in Spokane. They return to the Lilac City with their three sons: Ben, Nick and Jack. Wendle said his family is excited to return to Spokane, where he was born and raised.

In a statement announcing the hire, McMorris Rodgers praised Wendle's ties to the community and nonprofit work.

"Chud brings over a decade of experience and involvement in Eastern Washington, having worked with numerous local non-profit organizations, including Goodwill Industries and United Way of both Pullman and Spokane," McMorris Rodgers said in the statement.

Wendle said he was pleased to be working for McMorris Rodgers.

"I’ve always respected the work that the congresswoman does," he said

McMorris Rodgers won’t debate before primary

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers said she wants to debate her opponent in this year's election — but only after the primary.

The five-term incumbent Republican responded to a challenge from independent Dave Wilson, who wanted to debate five times before the primary and five times after it. She has a less ambitious counter.

"I was planning on writing to discuss debates as soon as we are certain who the candidates will be in November," she said in a letter to Wilson that welcomed him to the campaign. "I am committed to doing all I can for Eastern Washington during July's busy congressional schedule but am eager for debates in the fall."

Wilson said he was disappointed at her refusal to debate before the primary, and found her response "a little trite." But he added: "I was surprised I heard anything at all from her."

McMorris Rodgers has never failed to debate an opponent in a congressional campaign, although she has had a few dust-ups over scheduling in recent elections . . . 

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

McMorris Rodgers won’t seek Cantor’s spot

The day after the House of Representative’s No. 2 Republican fell to a primary challenger, Eastern Washington congressional candidates were hoping for a boost to knock off the No. 4 Republican.

Meanwhile, that No. 4 – Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers – said she wouldn’t be trying to leapfrog to No. 3.

The congresswoman was mentioned early Wednesday by several political analysts as a possible replacement for Eric Cantor, who will step down next month as majority leader. Cantor said he’d support Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, who is next in line on the leadership ladder, to move up.

McMorris Rodgers’ staff released a statement that she would not seek either the majority leader or whip position but would remain in the No. 4 leadership spot. She did not return a request for comment. Jim Camden, SR

Thoughts?

McMorris Rodgers challengers find hope in Cantor loss

The day after the House’s No. 2 Republican fell to a primary challenger, Eastern Washington congressional candidates were hoping Wednesday for a boost to knock off the No. 4 Republican.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers faces three challengers in the August primary – one Republican, one Democrat and one independent. Each thought the defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor validated some aspects of their races, which appear to be long-shot bids against the five-term incumbent.

All three will run low-budget, populist races against the House Republican Conference chairwoman, hoping to finish at least second in the primary and then defeat her in a head-to-head contest in November. . . 

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

Nethercutt: Cantor loss is warning to GOP leaders

Former Rep. George Nethercutt, who pulled off his own dramatic unlikely Congressional victory 20 years ago unseating Speaker of the House Tom Foley, of Spokane, said Tuesday he could see parallels between his experience and that of David Brat.

“It’s a message, as I look at it, to all members of the House: You’ve got to pay attention to what people at home are saying,” Nethercutt said.

Calling Majority Leader Eric Cantor a “rising young star” and “a bright young guy,” Nethercutt said it’s possible the Virginia Republican got too wrapped up in his leadership role and lost sight of his constituents’ wishes. He said he doesn’t want to see the same happen to Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who currently heads the House Republican Caucus and is a fixture at press events with Cantor and other GOP leaders. Her office did not respond to a request for comment on Cantor’s loss late Tuesday.

McMorris Rodgers, chairwoman of the House Republican Caucus, is the fourth-highest ranking member of Congress, behind the Speaker of the House, Majority Leader and Majority Whip.

“Anybody from Eastern Washington needs to pay attention to the voters at home,” Nethercutt said.

McMorris Rodgers with Seahawks at White House

Normally, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers wouldn't be all smiles at a gathering headed by President Obama at the White House — if she'd be there at all.

Not so today, where she stopped by for Obama's salute to the Super Bowl champs and tweeted out a photo, proving perhaps that winners draw a bipartisan crowd.

McMorris Rodgers draws 3rd opponent as filing week closes

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers drew a third challenger and several other political races filled out Friday on the last day for candidates to file for office in Washington.

Tom Horne of Nine Mile Falls filed as a Republican against McMorris Rodgers, who is seeking a fifth term in Eastern Washington’s 5th Congressional District. Horne hasn’t filed with the Federal Elections Commission or made a formal campaign announcement, and couldn’t immediately be reached for comment on his plans to unseat a fellow Republican. An internet search indicates he’s a firefighter and the inventor of the “Jake knife” a tool used by firefighters.

The race already includes independent Dave Wilson, a Spokane business consultant, and Democrat Joe Pakootas, chief executive officer of the corporation that manages Colville Tribal businesses.

Other last-day filings included former Spokane Valley Mayor Diana Wilhite, who made it a three-way race for a 4th Legislative District House seat, which also includes appointed incumbent Leonard Christian and Valley school teacher Bob McCaslin Jr. Rep. Matt Shea filed for re-election to the other seat and drew a challenge from Josh Arritola, who runs a management consulting firm. All five 4th District candidates are Republicans.

Randy Glenn II, an information technology manager filed as a Libertarian in the 3rd Legislative District House race that already included incumbent Democrat Marcus Riccelli and Republican Tim Benn, a day care center co-owner. Glenn is one of three Libertarians in local legislative races, along with Paul Delaney of Spokane, who is running for the other 3rd District seat against Democratic Rep. Timm Ormsby, and James Apker of Mead, who is challenging 7th District Republican Rep. Shelly Short.

Donald Dover, a retired manager of distance learning programs for Washington State University filed against Republican Rep. Kevin Parker in the 6th District and Ronnie Rae, a Loon Lake attorney, filed with a “Centralist Party” preference against Republican Rep. Joel Kretz in the 7th District. Rae said that’s not a real party but a description of his political philosophy.

For a list of candidates who have filed for offices that would be on Spokane area ballots, click here to go inside the blog.