Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Washington, takes part in a debate with her Republican challenger, Susan Hutchison, Oct. 8, at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma. (Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Washington, takes part in a debate with her Republican challenger, Susan Hutchison, Oct. 8, at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma. (Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)

Editorial: Cantwell affords best hope for bipartisan progress

Even while working in the minority, Sen. Cantwell has been an effective legislator for the state.

By The Herald Editorial Board

There are numerous reasons to support the re-election of Sen. Maria Cantwell, Democrat, to a fourth six-year term representing Washington state.

But as the nation now must confront growing divides along party, cultural and economic fault lines, there’s a significant reason why Cantwell’s Republican opponent, Susan Hutchison, should not receive the votes of state residents who desire a Congress that is responsive and dedicated to finding bipartisan solutions to the country’s looming crises.

We fully expect opposing candidates to outline and defend their positions on issues. But Hutchison — a veteran TV reporter and anchor and more recently the chairwoman of the state Republican Party — during her interview with the editorial board, in debates and elsewhere on the campaign trail, has relied unnecessarily on personal and partisan attacks on Cantwell and Democrats that have provided little illumination on the issues.

Two years ago, when other prominent Republicans were properly condemning statements made by then presidential candidate Donald Trump in the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape in which he boasted of sexually assaulting women, Hutchison called the remarks “repulsive,” but then took it a step further by excusing Trump’s behavior: “He was a Democrat at the time and was channeling Bill Clinton.”

Two years later, Hutchison, in running to represent all of Washington state’s residents, has been no less partisan.

During the Oct. 8 debate at Pacific Lutheran University, the candidates were asked how they and their parties would help work toward restoring civility. Hutchison made no commitment to the standard promise to “work across the aisle.” Instead, she used her minute to continue the attack: “It’s a very scary time. … If you disagree with a Democrat on anything their mob will come after you.”

Cantwell, in contrast, talked about her record of working with Republican senators on issues of common interest and getting all stakeholders to the table to find solutions based on fact and science. In the last two years, of the 40 pieces of legislation that Cantwell has introduced on the Senate floor, 19 had bipartisan support and four were joined solely by Republicans.

That’s the approach that Cantwell has used as a legislator throughout her career, including one term as the 1st District’s representative in Congress and seven years in the state House of Representatives.

Cantwell, even when operating from within the minority, has remained an effective legislator, helping craft bills when there has been bipartisan agreement and arguing against policy when it wouldn’t be beneficial to her constituents.

Among that recent work:

• Cantwell worked to include in a recent package of bills to bolster the nation’s response to the opioid crisis, significant increases in the civil and criminal penalties for opioid manufacturers that don’t report suspicious orders or maintain effective controls.

• Cantwell has worked to protect the Affordable Care Act from the Trump administration’s attempts to weaken it and a recent lawsuit by more than 20 red-state attorneys general that threatens the ACA’s protections of coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, meeting in an Everett roundtable discussion in July with doctors, patients and health care advocates.

• She and other Democrats in the state’s congressional delegation, have been vocal supporters of Dreamers, those brought across the border by their parents and given protection from deportation that was revoked by Trump.

• Cantwell has been critical of Trump’s escalating trade war, which has imposed tariffs on China but also on the nation’s allies, including Canada. Such tariffs, which remain in place, weren’t necessary to bring Canada or Mexico to the table to renegotiate NAFTA, and they have yet to budge China into talks. Washington state’s economy is too dependent on trade, Cantwell has long noted, to allow the administration to antagonize trading partners.

• Cantwell also supports an important trade tool, the Import-Export Bank, that she helped win reauthorization for, and now seeks to restore its full authority in financing loans that assist the state’s exporters and actually generate a profit for the nation’s treasury.

• She and other Northwest senators have fought a Trump administration proposal to sell off the Bonneville Power Administration’s electrical grid, a move certain to increase electricity costs for Northwest consumers.

• After the FCC rescinded the Obama administration’s open-internet rules, Cantwell backed legislation to restore net neutrality, noting that 13 percent of the state’s economy is generated by technology and internet industries.

• Three years ago, she and others won reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a legacy of Everett’s Sen. Henry M. “Scoop” Jackson that provides funding for parks and conservation programs and is supported not by the taxpayers but through offshore oil-drilling royalties. That authorization expired last month, and Cantwell has written legislation that would make the fund permanent and ensure the funding it was originally intended to receive.

• And she and others successfully fought cuts proposed by the Trump administration to the Environmental Protection Agency that threatened funding for cleanup and restoration of Puget Sound, clean air and clean water programs and cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation and other Superfund sites in the state.

Cantwell — and her seatmate, Sen. Patty Murray — have been responsive to the state and its residents and have shown themselves fully open to working with members of either party when the legislation is driven by need and provides a solution.

Cantwell serves in the seat once occupied by Jackson, a Democrat, and Sen. Dan Evans, a Republican.

The Herald Editorial Board endorses Maria Cantwell with the confidence that she is continuing the bipartisan legacy of both.

More in Opinion

Editorial cartoons for Wednesday, Feb. 19

A sketchy look at the day in politics.… Continue reading

Editorial: Insurance fee could limit wildfire risk, damage

A modest tax would fund $63 million each year for forest health and fighting wildfires in the state.

Editorial: Our county’s dubious distinction on school funding

The failure rate for levies and bonds in the county is in contrast to 90 percent approval statewide.

Editorial: Ballot’s ‘push polls’ on taxes don’t advise anyone

The tax advisory votes serve no legitimate purpose and should be removed from state election ballots.

Commentary: Oil trains need big enough crew for safety

Legislation would ensure trains carrying hazardous materials have workers ready if a problem arises.

Commentary: We knew what Barr would do as AG; he told us

The Senate knew Barr would use the Justice Department as a political cudgel. Yet, he was confirmed.

Commentary: On climate, hope for the best, prepare for worst

As sea levels rise, low-lying cities will be inundated. By 2100, 300 million could be displaced.

Rehiring fired deputies appears political, divisive

I am a lot more worried about Sheriff Adam Fortney bringing back… Continue reading

Editorial cartoons for Tuesday, Feb. 18

A sketchy look at the day in politics.… Continue reading

Most Read