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Opinion >  Editorial

Editorial endorsement: Vote for Maria Cantwell for U.S. Senate

Maria Cantwell has been a solid, hard-working, reasonable, pragmatic senator serving the interests of her constituents across Washington state since 2001. We support her as she seeks a fourth term.

As a U.S. senator, Cantwell isn’t flashy or a barn-burner. She is a sober and serious Democrat, willing to work across the aisle to get things done even in this almost incomprehensibly partisan age. She is diligent and indefatigable on the job, deeply immersed in the details of whatever she is working on.

These traits were all in evidence as Cantwell worked to pass legislation addressing the growing opioid addiction problem in the nation. She helped pass the 21st Century Cures Act, which brought $23 million in federal funds to Washington to help combat the epidemic. She has supported legislation to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for misleading advertising and shoddy distribution practices.

Many provisions she’s fought for were included in a recent bill that passed the Senate 98-1. The bill would increase civil and criminal penalties on opioid manufacturers who don’t effectively guard against suspicious orders and diversion of prescription drugs to illicit use. It would increase grants to state law enforcement agencies for investigating opioid and heroin distribution and increase funding for treatment for those addicted.

Cantwell works for the people of Washington – though she could spend more time learning about issues that specifically impact Eastern Washington. We are not her liberal base – every Eastern Washington county but Whitman voted for Donald Trump – but we are her constituents, and our issues are not always the same as the coastal cities. She could try harder to make sure she understands that and visit a little more often.

Not that those of us on this part of the state haven’t benefited from her actions. She’s done good work on funding important transportation projects for Eastern Washington. She’s fought for clean energy and grid modernization. She’s worked to try to limit medical inflation.

Republican Susan Hutchison, a former Seattle television journalist and state GOP chairwoman, is challenging Cantwell.

Hutchison has no legislative experience and has developed a well-earned reputation as a fierce Trump supporter. She called Sen. Ted Cruz a “traitor to the party” after he failed to endorse Trump in his Republican National Convention speech and wrote off Trump’s infamous “Access Hollywood” tape because Trump was “a Democrat at the time.”

It is hard to believe that Hutchison would be able to cultivate the kind of bipartisan reputation that Cantwell has earned during her time in the Senate – something important in a state where Trump received only 38 percent of the vote.

She also lost credibility with her partisan attacks against Cantwell when she declared her run. “I have just been watching the situation, and I think that a sitting senator who is known for doing nothing for us does not deserve a fourth term,” Hutchison told the Seattle Times. “She is a fake senator. She is a ghost in the state and in the Senate.”

As we mentioned, Cantwell could stand to spend more time on this side of the state, but calling her a “ghost” here and in the Senate is simply unsupportable. Though she doesn’t tend to brag about them or call a lot of attention to herself, Cantwell has many accomplishments to her credit.

Cantwell is further to the left than this editorial board on several issues, but she is not ideologically hidebound. She is solution-oriented and not a rabid partisan. We have seen nothing to indicate that Hutchison could honestly make the same claim.

The current charged congressional atmosphere is not good for the nation. It is not good for democracy. It is not good for Washington state. We all lose when members of Congress place a higher priority on loyalty to their party than on actual accomplishments.

We’ve discussed before how the web of rules that attempts to enforce party discipline have so often had awful consequences – like the time Congress nearly failed to reauthorize the Import-Export Bank. That would have hurt our trade-dependent state terribly. Cantwell helped preserve that institution, and she did it by working across the aisle.

Washington residents should support Sen. Maria Cantwell when they mail in their ballots.

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