For a geographically and economically diverse region, Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, remains the best person to represent Washington’s 3rd Congressional District. The Columbian’s Editorial Board recommends that voters support Herrera Beutler in her contest against longtime state representative Jim Moeller, D-Vancouver.
As always, this is merely a recommendation. The Columbian trusts voters to examine the candidates and the issues before casting an informed ballot. In a high-profile race with two candidates who long have been in the public eye, there is no shortage of information through which to assess the contenders. In addition, Herrera Beutler and Moeller have agreed to a pair of debates — Oct. 10 and Oct. 25.
Herrera Beutler has steadily grown into the job during three terms of representing a district that extends from the Pacific Ocean across Southwest Washington to the eastern edge of Klickitat County. Judging by bills she has sponsored, her thoughtful and reasonable approach to addressing the concerns of constituents has focused primarily upon health care and the use of public lands and natural resources — items of vital importance to this region.
Perhaps most important, Herrera Beutler has stood as an example of the dying breed that is a moderate Republican. Many critics have claimed that she votes in lockstep with the far-right wing of her party, but evidence does not support this assertion. Other critics — including the Clark County Republican Party, which absurdly opted to not endorse her in this race — have claimed that she is not conservative enough and does not cling tightly enough to party dogma.
For the record, according to GovTrack.us and its analysis of Congressional voting records, Herrera Beutler clearly ranks as a Republican on the ideology scale but breaks ranks with her party more frequently than most GOP members. We see this as a strength, as a sign of a representative who has a clear ideology but is more interested in governance than demagoguery. We also see it as the mark of a politician who aligns well with her district and understands its disparate needs.
For example, Herrera Beutler has joined other Republicans in frequently voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act. But she also has promoted numerous other bills related to health care, most recently the Safe Medications for Moms and Babies Act.
Moeller, meanwhile, is a worthy challenger. He is a seven-term state representative and prior to that served on the Vancouver City Council, and along the way he consistently has supported a progressive agenda. He advocates for a single-payer health care system, saying “Obamacare is a good start,” and he favors a $15-an-hour minimum wage along with tax increases to address the nation’s pressing needs.
Moeller criticizes Herrera Beutler by saying the people of the 3rd District are being “shortchanged” and by noting that she prefers coffee gatherings with selected constituents rather than traditional town-hall meetings — a criticism that is valid.
Philosophically, Herrera Beutler and Moeller present clear contrasts that typically mirror the philosophies of their parties, and both have strong qualifications for the job. But Herrera Beutler’s role as a moderate Republican in an age of strident disagreement can help create a Congress that functions for the benefit of the people.
Jaime Herrera Beutler has earned another term in Washington, D.C. The Columbian recommends that she be given that opportunity.