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Herald endorsement / 2nd Congressional District

Send capable Koster to D.C.

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In a decade as the 2nd District's congressional representative, Rick Larsen has kept a relatively low profile. The cerebral Democrat has focused appropriately on key local issues, including anything involving the Navy or Boeing, and helping to connect small exporters with potential customers.
His position on the Armed Services Committee has been helpful to Snohomish and Island counties, and he scored a victory, along with Sen. Patty Murray, with the designation of the Wild Sky Wilderness.
Still, after five terms in the House, Larsen lacks the get-it-done reputation of other members who have assumed greater leadership roles, or who have had a major impact on the nation's legislative agenda. We're left thinking that the 2nd Congressional District can do better.
This year, Republican John Koster represents a highly capable alternative. He has earned our endorsement for his varied experience, in business and government, and a get-it-done attitude that seems well suited to the economic challenges the nation faces.
Some would argue that it's unwise to give up the seniority associated with Larsen's tenure. Countering that is the likelihood that Republicans will win a House majority this year. Having a GOP representative, especially one who has already learned the basic legislative ropes as a state lawmaker and current member of the Snohomish County Council, figures to work more to the district's advantage.
Koster says he would "do everything I possibly can" to ensure the Navy retains its current presence in the region, and we have no doubt that he'd be as tenacious as Larsen in that area. Same for supporting Boeing and the aerospace industry that's such a key driver of the local economy. We think Koster's assertive style would be a plus.
So would his business background -- he was a third-generation dairyman before entering politics. That perspective is needed in a Congress that will have to wrestle with cutting spending (which Koster advocates doing a lot of) while boosting private-sector job creation. He'll cast a sharply critical eye on government growth.
As a lifetime resident of Snohomish County (as is Larsen), Koster is extremely well-versed in what makes the district's communities tick. One plank of Koster's platform that gives us pause, though, is his pledge not to pursue earmarks. That may sound good on the campaign trail, but it's a simplistic approach that won't serve the district well.
Earmarks that Larsen and others in Washington's congressional delegation have secured are not wasteful pork -- they help pay for vital transportation, education and other projects that support economic growth.
If he's elected, we urge Koster to ease up on his criticism of that funding mechanism, and understand that if the district's congressman doesn't help guide this relatively small amount of money back home, it will go somewhere else.

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