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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

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Editorial: McMorris Rodgers capable of tough job

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers would like a fourth term in Congress, and Democrats in the 5th District aren’t putting up much resistance. They threw their support behind little-known candidate Clyde Cordero in the primary, but he was defeated by Daryl Romeyn, who is best known for forecasting the weather on local TV stations. He gave up that profession a while back and is now a full-time organic farmer. However, when it comes to the important issues in this race, he is partly cloudy. Romeyn is sincere in his quest to join Congress, but too often his response to questions is: “Again, I don’t have specifics.”

Romeyn lobs the tired “career politician” label at McMorris Rodgers but says the district’s best-ever representative was Tom Foley – and we don’t disagree – but Foley was as entrenched as it gets. Romeyn correctly notes that a representative’s task is to listen, learn and legislate, but it is a candidate’s task to get past the first step in formulating his own ideas. We’re not sure who he was listening to in making trail breaks in national forests a centerpiece of his campaign.

McMorris Rodgers cruised to victory two years ago in a difficult year for Republicans. That’s very likely to happen again, but that doesn’t mean she should not be challenged on her ideas and accomplishments.

She has bemoaned the toxic atmosphere in Congress ever since joining in 2004. Sadly, it has gotten worse. She is a part of the Republican leadership team (and the only woman), and would presumably remain there if the GOP takes control of Congress. She could be well-positioned to help the district in such areas as preserving the mission at Fairchild Air Force Base, transportation, trade and agriculture.

But such power carries a duty to reach across the aisle on tough issues that will require bipartisan consensus. Reining in long-term deficits is chief among those challenges. McMorris Rodgers has shown promise in building relationships with Democrats. She points to her work (against the party’s wishes) on setting humane standards for disciplining special-needs children in schools.

We don’t agree with her on social issues such as abortion and gay marriage, but she hasn’t pressed those issues in office.

She correctly notes that the budgeting process in Congress is broken, because there are no limits on borrowing and spending. She acknowledges that Republicans haven’t followed through on their appeals to restraint, which is why they took their lumps in the 2006 and 2008 elections.

Her message is to give Republicans another chance. It looks like they will get it, but she needs to do her part as a party leader to squelch the acrimony with Democrats and tea party activists before realistic solutions to some very big fiscal issues are resolved.

McMorris Rodgers is the easy call in this race, but her task will be formidable.