By Matthew Daly Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The election of a Republican senator in Massachusetts shows that voters are worried about jobs and the economy, but is not cause for alarm among Democrats, Sen. Patty Murray said Wednesday.
Murray, who is seeking a fourth term this fall, said the message from Massachusetts “should not be taken lightly,” but added that it reinforces what she has long been saying about the need to increase job training and boost the economy.
“In general I would say it shows what a lot of us already know: that people are feeling unstable and worried about the economy and their jobs and their capability to provide for their families,” Murray told reporters on a conference call.
The election results show the importance of “getting people the kind of training they need to do the jobs that are out there for our state and our country,” she said.
Murray made the remarks as she and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis announced that Washington state is receiving nearly $6 million in federal stimulus funds to promote clean energy jobs — the type of program Murray said she hopes to duplicate.
Murray, the fourth-ranking Democratic senator and a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, is not considered vulnerable by most political observers. She raised more than $8 million for her re-election bid as of September and could easily raise twice that amount in a contested race — a steep hill for any challenger.
So far, six little-known Republicans, including former Washington Redskins football player Clint Didier of Connell, have announced plans to run for the seat.
Attorney General Rob McKenna or 8th District Rep. Dave Reichert are considered the GOP’s strongest potential candidates, but neither has expressed an interest in the Senate race. McKenna has his eye on the governor’s race, while Reichert appears settled in the House after two bruising re-election campaigns.
Spokeswoman Abigail Shilling said Wednesday that Reichert “is not one to shut doors on any opportunity,” but added that as of now, Reichert is concentrating on reaching solutions on health care and jump-starting the economy.
Even without a big-name candidate, Washington state GOP Chairman Luke Esser said Republicans were poised for a strong comeback in the state and nationally.
“Scott Brown really showed us the way,” Esser said in a conference call with reporters.
Brown, a little-known state senator, defeated Democrat Martha Coakley to take the Massachusetts Senate seat long held by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy.
Brown’s victory, coupled with previous wins in Virginia and New Jersey, shows that voters are frustrated with President Barack Obama and the Democratic majority in Congress, Esser said.
“Democrats run everything in D.C. Here in our state for years Democrats have had unbridled power,” he said.