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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spin Control

All the 5th District Congressional debates, in one place

Chances are, you've seen the billboards or the TV ads being run by the candidates for Washington's 5th Congressional district. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Joe Pakootas have technically been campaigning against each other for three years now, as the Democratic challenger vowed shortly after his 2014 defeat to take another crack at the seat.

If you want to see what the candidates have said recently about each other, in their own words, three live debates are online to view as you fill out your ballot. Here they are, the dates they were held and a summary of each.

Debate 1, Oct. 5 at Washington State University in Pullman

In their first contest, McMorris Rodgers laid out several policies she's pushed while in Congress as examples she can work in a bipartisan fashion, a theme she'll repeat in the subsequent two contests. Pakootas said he wanted to see the federal minimum wage raised and advocated for the removal of dams along the Columbia River. McMorris Rodgers, in a question on health care, attacked the Affordable Care Act as "anything but affordable" and in a question about climate change referred to her legislation calling for the generation of more hydropower by retrofitting existing dams and irrigation canals

Debate 2, Oct. 6 on KSPS-TV in Spokane

The candidates answered questions posed by a panel of local journalists, including myself, KXLY's Derek Deis and KREM's Whitney Ward. Pakootas repeated his claim that the minimum wage should be raised, though it should be done in a stair-step fashion over a period of several years. McMorris Rodgers, speaking before the release of a tape in which Donald Trump brags about sexually assaulting women, says she'll vote for the Republican nominee because he'll "shake up the status quo." She repeated that support after the tape was made public, and has continued to say she'll vote for Trump. The candidates grew more pointed in their comments about health care for veterans, with Pakootas attacking draft legislation from McMorris Rodgers as a way to "privatize" the system and incorrectly charged that funding for the Veterans Affairs Administration had declined during the congresswoman's tenure. McMorris Rodgers countered that the issue "was not a funding problem," but rather a need for change in leadership. 

Debate 3, Oct. 25 in Walla Walla 

The video above was posted to Joe Pakootas' campaign website. The Walla Walla Valley Chamber of Commerce, who hosted the event Tuesday night, recorded the debate but it has not been posted and was not streamed online. A spokeswoman said the debate would be made available online sometime in the next couple of weeks, likely after most voters have already turned in their ballots. The McMorris Rodgers campaign said they did not record the event.

The questions are posed by members of the chamber and focus on economic issues. Pakootas said he'd repeal the North America Free Trade Agreement, a 1994 pact signed by Democratic President Bill Clinton, saying it allowed the Canadian government to bring products into the country for much cheaper than domestically made goods. McMorris Rodgers said she'd seek to review the agreement because of its age, but did not say whether she'd seek repeal. Both Pakootas and McMorris Rodgers said they had major issues with the Trans Pacific Partnership, a proposed deal by President Barack Obama that both presidential candidates say they don't support. McMorris Rodgers said the issue would not be addressed in the "lame duck session" - the remaining time in the Congressional calendar before new members and a new president are sworn in, in January.

Be sure to read all our coverage on the 5th District race by heading over to our election website

Kip Hill
Kip Hill joined The Spokesman-Review in 2013. He currently is a reporter for the City Desk, covering the marijuana industry, local politics and breaking news. He previously hosted the newspaper's podcast.

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