Rep. Suzan DelBene has been a gridlock-defying lawmaker, ably shepherding NSA reforms and bird-dogging relief efforts after the Oso mudslide. She is the most prolific, effective member of her freshman class and deserves reelection.
A member of the minority party in the least productive Congress in U.S. history, DelBene nevertheless has managed to craft policy and represent the diverse interests of the gerrymandered 1st District. In 2014, incremental success is something of a miracle.
The colossal farm bill is a case study. DelBene weaved in an employment and training pilot modeled after Washington state’s Basic, Food, Employment and Training program. She also helped secure funding for specialty crops and organic farming, a boon to Washington’s fruit and vegetable farmers. On the NSA, DelBene co-cosponsored the successful Massie-Lofgren amendment, which nixes the use of appropriated funds to enable government agencies to collect and search the communications of U.S. citizens without a warrant.
On Sunday, DelBene presented Darrington Mayor Dan Rankin with a presidential-signing pen and a copy of the Green Mountain Lookout Heritage Protection Act, a small but meaningful win that will benefit the Stillaguamish Valley. “It’s one of the few bills that passed this year,” DelBene said without irony.
The challenge for DelBene’s opponents is delivering a credible “I’d-do-better” message. The easiest strategy is to hitch DelBene to an unpopular president and conflate her record with all-things-Obama. But her opponents still need to embroider criticism with substance.
Pedro Celis is DelBene’s most formidable challenger. An immigrant from Mexico with a computer science doctorate, Celis retired from Microsoft in 2012 after attaining the rank of “distinguished engineer.” He doesn’t support comprehensive immigration reform in its current form, although he underscored that deporting 11-20 million people is impractical. Celis also embraces re-authorization of the Export-Import Bank, the 80-year-old institution that promotes U.S. exports and costs taxpayers zero. For Republican candidate Ed Moats the ex-im bank reflects “crony capitalism,” a position shared by Republican Robert Sutherland, a traditional conservative with a grass-roots message. Moats and Sutherland are wrong, but if elected they’ll find an amen corner among House Republicans. On the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, all three Republicans believe it’s about religious liberty, not reproductive health.
Celis is a smart moderate who is encouraged to remain active in public life.
Re-elect Suzan DelBene.