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5th District hopeful Tom Horne challenges Cathy McMorris-Rodgers


A retired engineer and volunteer firefighter who joined the race against Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers on Friday said he’s unimpressed with the five-term incumbent and others in House Republican leadership on issues ranging from immigration to health care.

Tom Horne, 65, of Nine Mile Falls, said he wants to replace the Affordable Care Act with a better system but questions House Republicans’ multiple votes to repeal it, only to have the bills die in the Senate.

“That just makes them look like a bunch of idiots,” he said. “One vote a quarter or one every six months, OK. But 50 times? You’ve got to be kidding me.”

They should also have a replacement program ready to go when repealing what some call Obamacare, because health care before the Affordable Care Act didn’t work well either, he said.

On Friday, Horne became the fourth candidate in Eastern Washington’s 5th Congressional District race, joining Democrat Joe Pakootas and independent Dave Wilson challenging McMorris Rodgers. It’s his first run for office. He is running as a Republican.

Horne opposes any changes to immigration laws that would give legal status or some sort of amnesty to undocumented immigrants already in the country and contends House GOP leaders are headed in that direction.

“The system isn’t broken. They haven’t enforced the law we have,” he said.

McMorris Rodgers is the chairwoman of the House Republican Caucus, the fourth-ranking member of the party in that chamber, and earlier this year gave the official GOP response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address. But Horne said she sometimes seems like a token woman on the podium with GOP leaders, and he called her speech “a heck of an opportunity missed” because she spent so much of the speech talking about herself rather than national issues.

“It was like she was trying for Miss Congeniality,” he said.

He believes Republicans lose the public relations battle whenever they try to block raising the debt limit. They should pass the higher limit, but only after reminding voters that as a senator Obama said expanding debt was unpatriotic. Before any federal taxes are raised, Horne said, Congress should first consider drastic spending cuts. His cuts would include eliminating the Homeland Security Department, freezing the size of the federal workforce and cutting “green” energy projects for ethanol and biodiesel.

He thinks Social Security needs an overhaul that eventually would convert it to individual retirement accounts invested in the stock market, but only with a stronger Securities and Exchange Commission to police Wall Street.

Horne is married, a former Marine who received an engineering degree from Washington State University, worked on natural gas pipelines, and in shipyards, factories and schools.

He retired in 2005 and serves as a volunteer firefighter and EMT for Stevens County Fire District 1.

Unseating an incumbent from the same party will be difficult, he acknowledged, but he hopes to finish second behind McMorris Rodgers in the primary, which under state law would put them both on the November ballot.

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