EVERETT — Calibrating a proper national response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is a central concern of Snohomish County’s three Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives.
For their opponents, infrastructure, immigration, health care and the political direction of the country are issues, as well, leading up to the Nov. 3 election.
Congresswomen Suzan DelBene and Pramila Jayapalface rematches with their 2018 Republican foes, Jeffrey Beeler and Craig Keller, respectively. Rep. Rick Larsen is up against a first-time candidate in Republican Timothy Hazelo.
Each incumbent has spent more than a million dollars during this campaign, while none of their opponents has raised $100,000.
Though the challengers lack money needed to conduct aggressive campaigns, all brim with confidence in their chances come Election Day.
Here is a snapshot of the contests.
1st Congressional District
DelBene and Beeler are dueling to represent a district which stretches from suburbs in northeast King County to the Canadian border. It takes in parts of Snohomish County, including Darrington, Granite Falls, Lake Stevens, Mill Creek, Monroe, Snohomish and Sultan.
DelBene, 58, of Medina, is seeking a fifth term. She won two years ago with 59.3% of the vote.
The former Microsoft executive serves on the House Ways and Means Committee, giving her a voice in the majority party’s drafting of economic policy and response to the coronavirus emergency.
With the nation’s first COVID case in Snohomish County, DelBene said, she worked to ensure that the first federal COVID relief package contained funding for Washington’s public health system.
The first priority in the next Congress, she said, is addressing the health care response to and economic recovery from the pandemic.
House Democrats have passed two versions of a second relief package. In addition, DelBene said, she’s authored bills to expand tax credits for child care and building of affordable housing that are part of those efforts but can be acted on alone, as well.
Congress, she said, also must make sure “there are resources to manufacture vaccines and criteria to get it to where it is needed the most.” Getting vaccinated must be affordable and, for those who can’t pay, the federal government must cover the costs, she said.
She said she will continue pushing for federal dollars to improve safety on U.S. 2; identifying and addressing gaps in broadband in rural areas; and enactment of stronger federal data-privacy protections.
“We are behind in protecting customers in the digital age,” said DelBene, a sponsor of a bill setting up a national standard for protecting consumer information.
Beeler, 51, serves on the Sultan City Council and owns a window-cleaning business. He views the 2018 campaign as a “stepping stone” to this year, a chance to introduce himself and his platform to voters. And the foundation of that platform is unchanged.
“I literally could repeat everything I said two years ago and continue the campaign,” he said. Congress “doesn’t get the people’s work done.”
Immigration, for example. Beeler wants better border security but disagreed with President Donald Trump’s policy of separating children from their parents.
Beeler, too, called for greater federal investment in making U.S. 2 safer. He has been part of the region’s Highway 2 Safety Coalition, which has lobbied state and federal lawmakers for aid for years.
And the federal budget is out of balance and is growing worse under the weight of COVID relief. While Beeler recognizes the need for federal relief in the ongoing public health emergency, such spending “is not sustainable,” and Congress should be talking about how to address the imbalance, he said.
As in 2018, he trails the incumbent in fundraising. As of Sept. 30, DelBene reported raising $1.95 million to Beeler’s $52,394.
2nd Congressional District
Larsen and Hazelo are vying to lead a district which covers all of Island and San Juan counties, plus western Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom counties. It includes Everett, Marysville, Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace, Mukilteo, Arlington, Stanwood and Tulalip.
Larsen, 55, of Everett, is seeking an 11th term to extend his status as the district’s longest-serving congressman.
The Arlington native serves on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and is chairman of the aviation subcommittee. This term, he helped pass a five-year, $500 billion infrastructure package that awaits action in the Senate. Also, he helped push through a bipartisan bill reforming the Federal Aviation Administration’s process for certifying aircraft, such as the 737 Max, which has been grounded since early 2019 after two deadly crashes.
The biggest change, Larsen said, is that Congress will require the FAA to have more involvement in certifying the safety of airplanes “and not delegate as much as it has to the private sector.”
Larsen reiterated his disappointment with Boeing’s plan to move 787 production out of Everett, though he said he understood “it was a COVID-19 decision.” And he said he will look to bolster emerging technologies of the region’s aerospace industry, such as development of drones, commercial space vehicles and electric aircraft.
“We need to be part of the next big thing in aviation and continue to earn the nickname that we’re the aerospace capital of the world,” Larsen said.
Hazelo, 52, of Oak Harbor, is a retired air crewman with the U.S. Navy and has worked in the private sector as an investment adviser.
He decided to run largely due to frustration with Congress’ failure to rein in federal spending, reform immigration laws and bring greater accountability to government.
Career politicians on both sides worry more about re-election than long-term policy and “continue kicking the can down the road,” Hazelo said in an email. “We keep electing the same people with the same mindset year after year and expect different results. That is crazy. It’s time for term limits!”
Another reason was the House Democrats’ impeachment of President Donald Trump.
“Hearing these Democrat lemmings calling for impeachment without a crime was a huge influence,” he said.
If elected, he said, he’ll focus on improving the economy.
“The COVID overreaction has cost us in a drastic way,” he said. “Add to that the already disastrous Democrat business practices that have dominated (Washington) state and our country and you can see why we are in such trouble.”
Hazelo says Larsen has “lost touch” with constituents, since he does not live full-time in the district when the House is not in session.
“Absent Rick is no longer of this District. We deserve a representative that not only lives here, but also works here, has run a business here, raised his family here, served his nation and protected democracy here and plans on continuing to do so HERE!” he wrote.
With a 2,500-mile commute from the district, Larsen said, he and his wife decided 20 years ago to raise their sons on the East Coast so he would be able to see them grow up. In this term, he said, he’s held 30 town halls and made more than 630 visits to businesses and organizations, and logged more than 150,000 miles in travel between this state and the nation’s capital. He and his wife own a condo in Everett.
“I think the measure of this job is one of service to the district,” he said.
As of Sept. 30, Larsen had raised $1.2 million and spent $1 million in this election cycle. Hazelo totaled $19,635 in contributions and $14,039 in expenditures.
7th Congressional District
Jayapal and Keller are again competing in this district, which covers communities in south Snohomish County and King County, including much of Seattle. It takes in Edmonds, Woodway and Shoreline.
Jayapal, 55, of Seattle, is seeking a second term after receiving 83.6% of the vote two years ago.
She is a former state senator and the first South Asian American woman elected to the U.S. House. Prior to elected office, she founded and led OneAmerica, one of Washington’s largest political advocacy groups for immigrants.
Jayapal is a senior whip of the Democratic caucus and co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, giving her a voice in crafting her party’s legislation on pharmaceutical drug prices, protections for undocumented immigrants and democracy reform.
And, as a member of the House Judiciary Committee, she took part in the hearings which led to the House vote to impeach the president.
“I think we did incredible work in a very difficult circumstance,” she said.
If re-elected, her focus will be passing another COVID relief package to support the financial needs of unemployed and under-employed workers, and small businesses, as well as aid for providers of health care, child care and a range of human services. A major focus will be how to bring back jobs and how to get people whole again, she said.
Protecting the Affordable Care Act, achieving comprehensive immigration reform and enacting a domestic worker bill of rights are on her to-do list, as well.
Keller, 57, of Seattle, a longtime Republican precinct committee officer, also ran for this seat in 2014 and 2016.
Like those races, he’s made immigration the centerpiece. Keller wants better enforcement of existing laws and backs efforts to prevent cities from becoming “sanctuary cities” for undocumented immigrants. He also wants to require employers to enroll in and use the federal E-verify program for hiring new workers.
“My platform fully supports legal immigration — including the presently unlimited H-2A agriculture work visas which requires housing and transportation expenses be covered by the employer,” he wrote in an email. “What I reject is the Democrat artifice of ‘sanctuaries’ and mendacious non-enforcement of immigration laws to grow the Socialist/Democrat ‘plantation.’”
Keller also endorses Trump’s “robust tariff response” to China’s trade practices, seeks to outlaw robocalls and urges residents to invest in gold and own a firearm.
“Still, no one congressman can save you from this financial calamity unleashed by deceitful communists,” he wrote in his online candidate statement. “Our heroes in law enforcement simply cannot replace you taking maximum responsibility for your family’s safety during these trying times.”
As of Sept. 30, Jayapal reported $2.4 million in contributions to Keller’s $2,655.
Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; email@example.com. Twitter: @dospueblos.