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Saturday, September 21, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Opinion >  Editorial

Election surprises aren’t over yet

Didn’t get enough of the last congressional election? How about another one, with all new candidates?

We might be headed that way if Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers is indeed President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for interior secretary.

Starting in May, the 5th Congressional District race featured the incumbent Republican, Democrat Joe Pakootas, Independent Dave Wilson and Republican Tom Horne. Now, none of them may be our representative.

It’s just another feature of the craziest election in memory.

McMorris Rodgers is reportedly the front-runner to run the Interior Department. As a vice chair of the Trump transition, a Westerner and someone steeped in the issues of the position, the selection would make sense.

But Trump had reportedly not made a final decision as of late Friday.

Nonetheless, several possible replacements have emerged, choosing not to wait for the formal announcement. Apparently, there was a lot of pent-up desire from people who chose not to directly challenge McMorris Rodgers.

If nothing else, the news that she is the front-runner has revealed the ambitions of several local leaders.

Council President Ben Stuckart has re-examined his desire to be the mayor of Spokane after David Condon’s second term, telling the Inlander that his strength lies in legislating and policy. He would run as a Democrat. Pakootas, who made two runs as a Democrat, says he won’t try again. The district is a tough slog for the party.

Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich would run, which helps explain his interest in issues outside his job. For instance, he has been a strong defender of coal and oil trains running through town. He co-authored an op-ed on the controversy with state Sen. Michael Baumgartner, who also wants the congressional seat.

Baumgartner, a Republican, has run for the U.S. Senate and has always seemed to have ambitions beyond the state Legislature. He is particularly interested in foreign policy and the fight against terror.

Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, has spent his political career bashing the feds. Now he wants to do so from the inside. He’s also engaged in a long-running feud with Sheriff Knezovich, claiming in a podcast that the Sheriff’s Department was somehow tied to homicide suspect Roy Murry.

It will be interesting to see whether those two can share a candidate forum stage.

Other intriguing names, such as WSU-Spokane Chancellor Lisa Brown, a former Democratic leader in the Legislature, and Kevin Parker, a Republican who recently left the Legislature, haven’t ruled out running. Wilson and Horne say they may try again. Both would be long shots.

As for McMorris Rodgers, she is already being criticized by environmental and conservation groups. But they weren’t going to be happy regardless of the choice. Plus, she may be the most moderate of the remaining finalists. She certainly knows Northwest issues the best.

If Trump does pick her, bring the popcorn. This will be a double feature nobody should miss.

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