& lt;span class= "dropcap " & W & lt;/span & ith millions of dollars at their disposal, statewide races for U.S. Senate are always played out on TV, where a quick sound bite is all candidates can really hope to communicate. Judging by their campaigns ads, Maria Cantwell and Mike McGavick are running for senate on Mars. Yes, they seem that detached from reality.
Let's start with Cantwell, who is quick to point out her accomplishments on energy and health care -- heck, she's just like us, in fact, since she was once a waitress. Hello, Ms. Senator?! There's a bloody war going on -- any thoughts?
Since voting for the war resolution and failing to admit to her mistake, Cantwell comes off as oddly hawkish on the war as Hillary Clinton. (A quick aside: An honest mistake is one thing, but a mistake created by a lie is something entirely different, which makes Cantwell's unapologetic stance on that vote seem like nothing more than political cover.)
Then there's McGavick's clean-up-the-mess-in-D.C. approach, taken straight out of the George W. Bush 2000 campaign playbook (remember the compassionate conservative who was a uniter, not a divider?). The only difference is -- and it's a pretty big one -- that Bush was running against the Clinton legacy, while McGavick is running against ... Republicans? Despite its internal logical flaws, the message is probably the best available to McGavick. But voters have to wonder whether it's just a replay of Rovian politics -- say whatever you think the voters want to hear, then do the opposite once elected.
And let's talk about that "tone" in Washington McGavick wants to change: Which party blew up the bipartisanship that had emerged after 9/11 by calling the other party soft on terror -- even questioning the patriotism of a legless Vietnam vet? Republicans. (McGavick's own party.) Which party changed the rules to keep the other party out of the decision-making process? Republicans. Which party opened its back door to lobbyists (to write the Medicare drug benefit giveaway) and schemers (like Jack Abramoff, whose fingerprints are everywhere)? Republicans. Which party is now sounding the alarm, after six years of binge deficit spending, that taxes (Duh!) will be raised? Republicans. Who says, cynically, that Democrats will surrender in the war on terror? Republicans.
McGavick is right on: this is pure nonsense. He just happens to be on the wrong side of politics to make this campaign message stick.
Cantwell prefers tiptoeing through this election, talking about the bloodless issues, being careful not to screw up. She may win, but she's not inspiring anybody. But to be fair, maybe that's not her job -- as a senator, she works on legislation, not winning the hearts of millions. As a behind-the-scenes worker bee, she's been as effective as you can be in a minority position. Perhaps her best quality is that she truly does stick up for the middle class in all her votes and initiatives. From fighting Enron to trying to get lawmakers to pay attention to crucial issues like health care, Cantwell has earned another term. And as a unit with Patty Murray, she can be an effective representative for Washington state.
But really, this election is bigger than McGavick or Cantwell; it's about restoring balance to our badly listing ship of state. With a rubber-stamp Congress, the executive branch has absolutely no check on it. The result of this is a war without end (or plan -- now on to Iran!), spending without limit (as much as the Chinese will lend us, anyway) and behavior without ethics (Abu Ghraib, Katrina, Foleygate -- nobody's to blame, so nobody gets fired).
Turning the U.S. Senate blue would remove the grease from the skids Bush has been careening wildly on. Slow, deliberative, responsible government is what our Founding Fathers had in mind; a vote for Maria Cantwell will help restore their vision of America.
Washington State Senate
4 CHRIS MARR
& lt;span class= "dropcap " & B & lt;/span & rad Benson has had a surprisingly long political career. To his credit, he has done it on his own terms -- not always playing ball with his party leadership and being refreshingly candid about his political views. Some of those views, it should be pointed out, are pretty out there -- teaching the discredited "intelligent design" in public schools, for example. Still, he should be given credit for living up to what has become a bit of an oxymoron -- "honest politician." Such qualities won him his state Senate seat after back-room machinations kept him out when Jim West left the job to become mayor of Spokane.
But it's time for a change: Chris Marr will make a very good state senator. A successful businessman who wants to give back to the community, Marr has run an impressive, tireless campaign -- offering a preview of how he would tackle the job of senator. More important, Marr could work along with Majority Leader Lisa Brown to make sure the state doesn't forget about Spokane.
Benson has fought these east vs. west battles, but he has tended to withhold support and stand on the sidelines when the west is winning. That's a losing strategy in a state in which the west side holds the majority of the population. The west side is also the economic engine that drives the entire state. Marr would work within that system, flawed as it may often seem to Eastern Washingtonians, to make sure Spokane is at the table when the big decisions are made.
Spokane is poised to become something bigger and better, but with so much of our local economy hinging on health care, education and government, effective advocacy in Olympia will be a major factor in whether the region flourishes or fades. Marr has a vision of the future, and he understands the economic underpinnings that matter most -- in fact, he has served as a Washington State University regent and on the board at Empire Health Services, which operates Deaconess Hospital. He will bring a brand of representation heavily weighted toward economic development, and as Spokane sits on the edge of something new, that's exactly what's needed.
1st Congressional District
4 larry grant
& lt;span class= "dropcap " & N & lt;/span & orth Idahoans get to decide whether this is the year they put common sense above ideology. In a crowded primary field, most political observers believe the least capable and most ideological candidate emerged: Bill Sali. It didn't hurt that the notorious Club for Growth poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into his campaign. What do they expect in return?
As the nation starts to pay attention to Idaho's 1st District race, it becomes a referendum on what kind of state Idaho really is: Will voters choose an advocate for economic development or an embarrassing headline-maker? Sali has decided that breast cancer is related to abortion. He once told a reporter that critical-thinking skills aren't "necessarily needed" in the legislature. And a leader in his own party once called him "an absolute idiot." Many Republicans are finding it hard to support Sali.
Meanwhile, Larry Grant brings common sense, conservative values and a strong track record with high-tech giant Micron -- giving voters a real choice.
It will be a sad day if, finally, we learn that all it takes for a person to represent Idaho is having an "R" behind his name. And that's really about all Bill Sali has going for him
The Inlander offers its opinion on many but not all elective races and ballot measures. Pick up next week's issue for more endorsements.