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May 26, 2022

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Murray kicks off general election campaign

Senator holds rally at Fort Vancouver National Site

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U.S. Sen. Patty Murray told 325 jubilant supporters in Vancouver on Friday that she wants another six -year term so she can keep fighting for Washington families and small businesses on Main Street.

Fresh from a hard-fought primary election in which her tally fell short of 50 percent, the three-term Democratic senator delivered a populist speech at an old-fashioned, sign-waving rally at Hamilton Hall at the Fort Vancouver National Site.

Murray touted a long list of accomplishments she has delivered to the state of Washington over 18 years in office, from saving veterans’ hospitals the Bush administration tried to close, to winning passage of national pipeline safety legislation after a pipeline explosion in Bellingham killed three children, to insisting that the Obama administration include money for Columbia River channel deepening in the federal stimulus bill.

“I have never given up, and I have never backed down,” Murray said.

Wearing jeans and her trademark tennis shoes, Murray directed her most barbed comments yet at her Republican opponent, Dino Rossi, for opposing a $26 billion state aid bill passed by Congress two weeks ago and for announcing that he favors repeal of recently passed Wall Street reform legislation.

“A few weeks ago, I fought to keep our kids from going back to even more-crowded classrooms by getting more aid for troubled states like ours,” Murray said. She noted that Congress paid for the $26 billion bill by closing corporate tax loopholes.

“I thought, ‘Who in the world would support extending corporate tax loopholes over education for our kids?’ Well, I found him. His name is Dino Rossi. He talks a big game about reining in spending, but apparently, when it comes down to it, if it hurts his corporate sponsors — turns out he’s not speaking for you.”

Similarly, she said, she worked hard to pass Wall Street reform so middle-class Americans would never again be left holding the bag for the mistakes of “greedy corporate CEOs and wealthy Wall Street lobbyists.”

“We can’t go back to those days,” she said. “And I thought, ‘Who would ever want to?’ Well, I found him. His name is Dino Rossi. He’s promising to repeal Wall Street reform. Maybe he thinks we should reward those who recklessly put our country in peril and take you back to the days of allowing others to misuse your mortgages and gamble with your retirement. But I say, ‘Not on my watch!’ “

Rossi, the former state senator and twice-unsuccessful candidate for governor, who won 33.5 percent of the vote to Murray’s 46.2 percent, has repeatedly attacked Murray as one of the Senate’s big spenders and criticized her use of earmarks to win funding for Washington projects.

Murray said she knows the federal government must cut back and recently voted to cut President Barack Obama’s budget by $14 billion.

“We have to be responsible in our investments and not pay for our recovery and our future strength on the backs of my 9-year-old grandson, Aidan, or your children and grandchildren,” she said. “But we also can’t leave them a legacy of crumbling infrastructure or shuttered businesses or innovation that has left our shores because we’ve slashed budgets without an eye to the future.”

Neither can the federal government abandon families like her own family of seven siblings, who depended on food stamps, disability payments and Pell grants for college tuition to make it into the middle class, she said.

Murray said she has a long memory and hopes voters understand that today’s economic hard times have their roots in decisions made by the previous Republican administration.

“The fallout of the Bush administration and the failed policies of the past are evident everywhere in Washington,” she said, from homes that have lost value to the disappearance of retirement savings to small businesses’ lack of access to credit.

In a brief interview, Murray said she has faced tough election challenges before and never takes any election for granted.

Rossi seeks debates

On Friday, Rossi challenged Murray to a series of five debates in Washington state hosted by local civic organizations, and one nationally televised debate, beginning the week of Sept. 6.

Julie Edwards, Murray’s spokes-woman, said the senator is open to debating Rossi if the debates can be scheduled to fit with her Senate responsibilities.

“I will be very clear, though, that no matter Mr. Rossi’s preference, all debates will be in Washington state because this election is about the people of this state and not anywhere else,” she said.

Didier weighs in

Also Friday, Tea Party Republican and former pro football player Clint Didier, who finished third in the Senate primary with 12.56 percent of the vote, said he would withhold his endorsement of Rossi unless Rossi agrees to sign strict pledges opposing abortion rights and taxes.

Specifically, Didier wanted Rossi to promise to support anti-abortion legislation that U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas has introduced in the House and to pledge not to support any increases in taxes or federal spending. He said that because his supporters were one-third of the GOP primary vote, his backing “could make the difference over whether Dino Rossi or Patty Murray will be our next senator.”

Rossi spokeswoman Jennifer Morris said Rossi would not agree to those conditions.

“He knows Washingtonians are principled and independent and expect their public servants to run on what they believe,” she said Friday. “In that spirit, Dino will continue to campaign on the things he believes and will not submit to a list of demands made by anyone, in Washington state or Washington, D.C.”

For more political news, see http://www.columbian.com/politics.

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