The U.S. House of Representatives may be the most partisan room in the Western Hemisphere, yet Washington voters pick their candidates for it with a nonpartisan primary. It’s one of the state’s many political incongruities.
The top two vote-getters in August – regardless of party – will proceed to the November election. But despite the top two system, most Washingtonians align with either the Republican or Democratic Party, and they’re looking for candidates who reflect their views and have a fighting chance in the general election.
That’s why, except in the 9th Congressional District, we endorse a candidate from each party for the South Sound’s House seats.
• 6th District (Tacoma, Gig Harbor, Olympic Peninsula)
A rush of candidates is seeking to replace Norm Dicks, who is resigning from this seat after a long and distinguished congressional career.
His anointed successor – broadly supported by the Democratic establishment – is state Sen. Derek Kilmer of Gig Harbor. The Democrats know who they want, and we won’t second-guess them.
On the other side is a slew of Republicans. The strongest among them are Bill Driscoll, Doug Cloud and Jesse Young. Cloud and Young are principled, determined candidates who’ve hungered for this seat for a long time.
Driscoll, however, is an exceptional new candidate with a broad business background and record of community service. There’s no questioning his patriotism. When the United States got embroiled in Iraq and Afghanistan, he’d been out of the Marine Corps 18 years – but he rejoined and was deployed to both countries.
Driscoll, a Tacoman, is a thoughtful, soft-spoken candidate who exudes competence and gravitas. Republicans could hardly do better.
• 8th District (East Pierce and King counties, Kittitas and Chelan counties)
Some Democrats have seen U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert as low-hanging fruit since he was first elected to this seat in 2004. But the Auburn Republican has fended off one vigorous challenge after another. He has challengers from the Republican right this year, but he’s clearly his party’s best candidate.
The same goes, on the other side, for Karen Porterfield of Issaquah, a smart and engaging new Democratic candidate who may connect with voters in the 8th more successfully than Reichert’s previous challengers.
• 9th District (Northeast Tacoma, South King County, Bellevue)
We don’t think this race is a contest. U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, a Tacoma Democrat, has represented the 9th capably and energetically since 1997. He keeps getting re-elected in this purplish district because he serves his constituents and the region well.
He’s being challenged by a Democrat, Tom Cramer; two Republicans, Jim Postma and John Orlinski; and an adherent of conspiracy-monger Lyndon LaRouche. We don’t see any of them even remotely as a potential trade-up.
• 10th District (Puyallup through Olympia)
The Democratic side of this fight is an easy call: Denny Heck of Olympia has been involved in state affairs for many years, including 10 years as a member of the Legislature. He co-founded TVW, served as Gov. Booth Gardner’s chief of staff, and seems to have public spirit pumping through his veins.
The two Republicans are Stan Flemming of University Place and Dick Muri of Steilacoom, both members of the Pierce County Council. Each has an impressive record in local government and in the military, where each served as a high-ranking military officer.
We especially like Muri, who focuses relentlessly on improving the performance of the public agencies he has supervised. His sturdy and steady libertarian-conservative philosophy is a good fit for 10th District Republicans.