U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks was leading in his bid for an 18th term Tuesday night, but it appeared he’d lose powerful committee chairmanship as Republicans were closing in on regaining control of the House.
Dicks was defeating his Republican opponent, Doug Cloud, by a smaller margin than in their three prior contests, early election returns show. Cloud hadn’t received more than one-third of the vote in those elections, but was getting more than 41 percent this time around.
“This is a tough year,” Dicks said in an interview. “We’ll take a win regardless. Fifty-seven, 58 percent is a significant victory.”
Dicks, the longest-serving House member in the state’s history, had been in line to become chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, which controls the purse strings for nearly $1.4 trillion in annual federal spending — everything but Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. But the Republican victory in the chamber cost him the spoil.
Dicks said he’s disappointed about losing the chairmanship but he intends to work cooperatively with his colleagues on the other side of the aisle.
“I don’t intend to be an obstructionist,” he said. “I will treat them better than they treated us.”
He faulted the White House for not doing a good enough job getting the message out about the successes of the major legislation. He reiterated that passage of the financial bailout and economic stimulus was the right thing to do. They did work, he said, although not to everyone’s satisfaction.
“No one is happy with 9.5 percent unemployment,” he said. “It’s a lot better than 13 percent unemployment.”
The district includes most of Tacoma, Bremerton, Kitsap County and the Olympic Peninsula from Grays Harbor to the Strait of Juan de Fuca.