Top: Suzan DelBene, left, and Vincent Cavaleri. Bottom: Rick Larsen, left, and Dan Matthews.

Top: Suzan DelBene, left, and Vincent Cavaleri. Bottom: Rick Larsen, left, and Dan Matthews.

Incumbents DelBene, Larsen say country is heading in right direction

The U.S. representatives face GOP foes Vincent Cavaleri and Dan Matthews, who are spotlighting public safety and inflation.

EVERETT — Congress churned out several significant pieces of legislation the past two years.

In recent weeks, Democratic U.S. Reps. Rick Larsen and Suzan DelBene have been traveling around, touting the measures which have, and will in the coming years, funnel sizable sums of dollars to programs, projects and services throughout their districts.

It’s a long victory lap for the Democrats, who as part of the House majority, supported passage of the American Rescue Plan Act, Inflation Reduction Act, and Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, to name a few.

Their opponents in the Nov. 8 election don’t share the lawmakers’ enthusiasm.

Inflation isn’t easing. Certain crime rates are climbing. A recession is looming. There’s trouble ahead warn Republicans Dan Matthews and Vincent Cavaleri unless federal lawmakers and the president pivot the nation in a different direction.

Though neither challenger is expected to pull off an upset, those long odds aren’t curbing their push to spotlight issues that the incumbents are, in the challengers’ opinion, giving short shrift.

1st Congressional District

DelBene and Cavaleri are dueling in a district that stretches from the Arlington airport south to Bellevue in King County. In Snohomish County, it includes Mill Creek, Snohomish, Marysville, Mountlake Terrace and Bothell, as well as part of Lake Stevens.

Redistricting made it more compact and urban than the district DelBene has represented since entering Congress a decade ago. Those boundaries extended the district to the Canadian border and took in large pockets of Skagit and Whatcom counties. Those areas are now in Larsen’s 2nd District.

DelBene, 60, of Medina, is seeking a sixth term. She is a former Microsoft executive and a past director of state Department of Revenue.

She serves on the House Ways and Means Committee and is chair of the New Democrat Coalition — the largest of any House caucus with 99 members. In those roles she gained a voice in drafting economic policy and setting her party’s broader agenda.

She said a focus next term will be permanently expanding the federal Child Tax Credit. The American Rescue Plan, passed in 2021 in response to the pandemic, expanded it for a year. Studies showed it paid dividends as it temporarily reduced the nation’s child poverty rate.

“We can’t lift kids out of poverty in a year. Kids don’t grow up in one year,” said DelBene, who has also had legislation enacted to address the shortage of infant formula.

Another priority will be ensuring access to abortion care across the nation. House Democrats twice passed a bill to accomplish that but it did not clear the Senate.

“We are at a critical point for our democracy, for our future,” she said. “I want there to be a healthy planet for my granddaughter to grow up in.”

Caveleri, 57, a corrections deputy for the Snohomish County sheriff’s office, has served on the Mill Creek Council since 2015. A native of Queens, New York, he describes himself as “more libertarian” in his approach to policy making.

He has zeroed in on three areas: improving public safety, reducing federal spending and curbing the flow of undocumented immigrants across the southern border.

“I think America is in trouble,” he said. “Inflation is crushing every American family. I think we’re witnessing a bankrupting of this nation with (federal) spending levels.”

He said he’ll push back on efforts to defund police. He said he’s against abortion and anti-death penalty. On abortion, he said the Supreme Court “got it right” overturning Roe v. Wade and letting state legislatures set the rules. He said he’d vote against a national abortion ban.

As for the 2020 presidential election, he said “of course” Joe Biden was legitimately elected. Hearing Republicans deny the results “is one of the saddest things,” he said.

2nd Congressional District

Larsen and Matthews are battling in a district spanning four entire counties — Island, San Juan, Skagit and Whatcom — and an area of Snohomish County east of I-5 south up to the King County border. Residents of Everett, Mukilteo, Lynnwood, Edmonds and the Tulalip Reservation are among his constituents.

This is the second time they’ve faced off. Larsen defeated Matthews in 2012 by a margin of 61% to 39%. In the 10-person August primary, Larsen won with 46% and Matthews was second with 17%.

Larsen, 57, is seeking a 12th term to extend his status as the district’s longest-serving congressman. The Arlington native serves on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and could become chair next session if Democrats hold the majority.

He currently leads the aviation subcommittee. He played a key role in reforming the Federal Aviation Administration’s process for certifying aircraft, such as the 737 Max.

He said of the many transportation funding successes, he is proud of dollars he helped secure for electrifying state ferries and public transit fleets in the district. Next session, he said he wants to assist veterans living in rural areas with better transportation services to reach medical care.

The session could be a challenge. Republicans have made clear if they recapture the majority they want to undo some of what’s been done in this term, said Larsen, a moderate and member of the New Democrat Coalition.

“From where I sit, all that good work will be in some trouble,” he said, adding “the threat of a national ban on abortion is very real.”

Matthews, 72, of Mukilteo, is a retired U.S. Air Force pilot who served in the Vietnam War and Desert Storm conflict and former instructor pilot for the Boeing Co. He’s a former board member of Shoreline Public Schools.

A self-described social and fiscal conservative, he said he got in the race because he felt President Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were “steering things” in the wrong direction.

And Larsen, he said, votes so often with Pelosi he is literally at her “beck and call.”

“I want a representative more aligned with the public not the party,” Matthews said.

The challenger said he’ll focus on strengthening the economy, securing the southern border and “defending the family.” He called for a parents bill of rights and expanded opportunities for school choice.

He said he agreed with the Supreme Court decision ending federal protections for abortion. Matthews said he wants “to fully promote the adoption option, so that we truly provide a loving alternative to the death option of abortion.”

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @dospueblos.

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