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

Eastern Washington Democrats running for Congress split on Biden candidacy

The three Democrats running for Congress in Eastern Washington – Carmela Conroy, left, Ann Marie Danimus and Bernadine Bank – share a laugh to begin the Democratic congressional debate on March 22 at the Pence Union Building on EWU campus in Cheney.  (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

Democratic candidates running to represent Eastern Washington in Congress are split on whether President Joe Biden should remain the Democratic nominee in this year’s presidential election.

Dr. Bernadine Bank called on Biden to drop out of the race Monday, stating in a news release that the president “might be too old for office,” pointing to a recent debate performance in which he failed to “reassure the American people that he’s up to the job.” Vice President Kamala Harris should take his place in the presidential campaign, Bank argued.

Bobbi Bennett-Wolcott, a registered nurse and clinical assistant professor at Washington State University, “reluctantly” agreed that Biden should step aside.

“In addition to being alarmed by his mishandling of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian crisis, last week’s presidential debate and his recent interviews have made it abundantly clear that president Biden is no longer capable of carrying the enormous burden of serving as our president,” she wrote in a statement.

However, unlike Bank, Bennett-Wolcott argued that the candidate to replace Biden should be decided at the Democrats’ national convention, rather than simply default to Harris.

Former diplomat Carmela Conroy, who until earlier this year also served as chair of the Spokane County Democrats, said that neither Donald Trump nor Biden set to rest concerns about the future of American Democracy at the debate.

“Both parties have to think long and hard about who is best suited to serve as the Commander in Chief and lead our government of, by, and for the people,” she said in a statement.

Small business consultant Ann Marie Danimus was the only Democratic candidate for the seat who vocally defended Biden’s candidacy for another term.

“The president is a decision -maker,” Danimus said. “Biden has proven his ability to, first of all, surround himself with highly qualified, intelligent, conscientious people.”

She acknowledged Biden struggles with communication, but feels he has always been “absolutely on point.” The president has detailed his struggle growing up with a stutter.

Bank argued that it wasn’t appropriate to conflate the president’s speech impediment with his poor debate performance, arguing that while Biden had “done a good job, especially around my campaign’s core issues,” such as supporting abortion access and veterans, his performance was not meeting the expectations of Eastern Washingtonians.

Kootenai County Deputy Prosecutor Matthew Welde, a Liberty Lake resident also running for the seat as a Democrat, declined to comment on the presidential election.