In Our View: Murray for U.S. Senate

Democrat has avoided demagoguery, demonstrated bipartisan leadership

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In an era marked by political divisions, Democratic Sen. Patty Murray has maintained a focus upon governing rather than partisan demagoguery. The Columbian’s Editorial Board recommends that Murray be returned to Washington, D.C., for a fifth term in office.

As always, this is merely a recommendation designed to foster discussion. The Columbian trusts that voters will examine the candidates and study the issues before casting an informed ballot.

Murray’s successes in the Senate are easily enumerated and easily distinguished in this age of a do-nothing Congress. In 2013, she worked with Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan to craft a budget deal that avoided a government shutdown. Last year, she worked with Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee to develop the Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaced the troubled No Child Left Behind law while reducing federal involvement in education and increasing support for early education. In signing the new education law last December, President Obama quipped: “A Christmas miracle: A bipartisan signing right here.”

In short, Murray is to be believed when she says, “I’m as frustrated as everyone by the inaction that Congress puts in our face all the time. I get up every day to solve problems.”

Still, Murray has incurred the wrath of many traditional Democratic constituencies over the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a proposed trade agreement involving the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations. Murray has not yet made up her mind regarding the pact, but has said, “There are some good things in this trade deal.” We believe the agreement would be beneficial to Washington, which is the nation’s most trade-dependent state, but it has been opposed by many labor groups.

Republican Chris Vance, Murray’s opponent, has strongly supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership and notes, “Free trade is good for the world, good for the United States, and particularly good for Washington state.” Vance is a former state Republican chairman and King County councilman, and he stresses the need for change in Washington, D.C., while saying, “Congress is completely unable to solve big problems.”

A self-described “radical moderate,” Vance long ago disavowed Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, before it became fashionable for Republicans to do so, but adds that he won’t vote for Hillary Clinton, either. He stresses the need to reduce the national debt and he challenges dogma on both sides of the aisle by saying a combination of increased revenue and spending reductions are required.

Vance serves as a worthy and reasonable challenger who warrants serious consideration, but there are shortcomings to his argument that Murray is part of the problem in Washington, D.C. In addition to her bipartisan actions regarding a budget agreement and an education law, she has often avoided the political rigidity that is common these days.

That being said, after 24 years in the Senate, Murray must remain attentive to the needs of all her constituents. Federal leadership will be required to revive planning for a new Interstate 5 Bridge, and to improve safety for oil-bearing trains — issues of vast importance for Southwest Washington. In addition, despite numerous invitations, Murray was unable to find time to meet with The Columbian’s Editorial Board leading up to the November election.

While there are faults in Murray’s performance, they are minor compared with her accomplishments. The Columbian recommends a vote for Patty Murray.