This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.
Democrat Maria Cantwell has a smart, respectable Republican challenger for her U.S. Senate seat – freshman state Sen. Michael Baumgartner of Spokane.
Baumgartner is particularly knowledgeable about Middle East policy, but he doesn’t make a good case for replacing the cerebral, hard-working incumbent. The News Tribune editorial board recommends that voters give Cantwell a third six-year term.
A former state legislator who served a term in the U.S. House, Cantwell was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2000 by defeating the incumbent, Slade Gorton. Since the economy went south, she has focused with laser-like intensity on creating jobs, helping business and pushing for Wall Street reforms.
Cantwell isn’t one for partisan bickering, instead working to educate her colleagues and build coalitions for legislation that is often more wonky than “sexy.” Prime examples are her efforts to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, an agency that helps finance exports of many manufacturers, including Boeing; to pass tax credits for employers who hire veterans; and to invest in freight and transportation infrastructure.
As chair of the Senate aviation subcommittee, Cantwell is well-poised to work on issues affecting the state’s vital aerospace interests. She was instrumental in creating the FAA Center of Excellence at the University of Washington and funding aerospace training at Clover Park Technical College and 10 other state schools.
Cantwell and Baumgartner agree on some issues – both support comprehensive immigration reform so badly needed by Washington farmers seeking a reliable workforce. But they differ on abortion, marriage equality and marijuana legalization. Cantwell supports abortion rights and federal recognition of same-sex marriage; she opposes Initiative 502 to legalize marijuana. Baumgartner opposes abortion choice and believes states should decide on same-sex marriage. He supports I-502.
We think the pragmatic Cantwell is a better fit for Washington state. Voters must think so, too; she soundly won the primary matchup with Baumgartner in August. They should back her again Nov. 6.