Time to make a change: Baumgartner for Senate

Sen. Maria Cantwell does a good job of representing Tri-City interests in Washington D.C. She understands energy and high-tech industry and agricultural and most of the things that we are and want to be as a state and community.

The Democratic incumbent also has 12 years of seniority now.

If she returns to the Senate, she will be even better positioned to make good things happen for us.

All that being said, it seems counterintuitive that we would support her Republican opponent. But we are.

It's a curious move -- one that surprises even us. Frankly, if we were any less impressed with her opponent, we'd be happy to support Cantwell's re-election.

Michael Baumgartner, a one-term state senator from the Spokane area, is a different candidate from Cantwell. Most of his expertise is in foreign policy, and he's spent time overseas, much of it in the volatile Middle East.

He has a deep understanding of America's military involvement in the region, which remains a huge drain on the federal budget.

In our opinion, he would bring an expertise to Congress that is now missing.

Congress is the authorizing body for military spending, yet fewer and fewer members of Congress have any military experience.

To be clear, Baumgartner's background is as a military adviser, not as a veteran. But his expertise is extensive.

He earned a master's degree in international development at Harvard University's Kennedy School and later served as an economics officer at the U.S. Embassy in Iraq, where he worked on the Baghdad Security Plan.

He also served as an adviser to an Afghan counternarcotics team. He understands the region's culture and conflicts at a deeper level than most in Congress. With 68,000 American troops still in Afghanistan, Baumgartner's knowledge is needed.

Just because he would be good for the country on international issues, don't label him as a one-trick pony.

He has a decent understanding of our local interests, including as immigration, water rights and Hanford cleanup. He also wants a dedicated funding source for higher education. It's a good plan.

We think he would be good for the Mid-Columbia and excellent for the nation.

When Cantwell interviewed with the Herald's editorial board, she said, the economy is stalled and Congress has been "bogged down." We heartily agree with her on both points, and we are eager to get unbogged.

There needs to be some changes somewhere to break the gridlock in Washington, D.C. That can only happen by changing some incumbents.

Change without substance is terrible policy. We've seen plenty of challengers over the years who are woefully unprepared for the offices they are seeking.

Here's an exception.

Baumgartner is a viable choice. He is smart, persuasive and articulate. As a state senator, he was part of the bipartisan effort to solve the state's massive budget problems.

We've long thought that Congress could learn a lesson or two from our state lawmakers. Baumgartner has the potential to take the other Washington to school.

Cantwell is a strong candidate and a friend to the Tri-Cities. Returning her to Washington, D.C., is not a bad idea.

Baumgartner is largely an unknown, but we like what we've seen so far, and we're willing to take a shot at something new.

The Tri-City Herald Editorial Board recommends Michael Baumgartner for U.S. Senate.