Our Voice: 4th Congressional District: Dan Newhouse top choice

With a dozen candidates vying for the 4th Congressional District seat, voters have a difficult task narrowing the field and casting a single vote in the primary.

We're making a recommendation today that we hope you'll use to help you reach a decision. We're also posting at tricityherald.com/questionnaires the candidates' answers to 13 questions on important issues affecting the district.

We also co-sponsored a candidate forum at Columbia Basin College this month. That event can be viewed online at www.tinyurl.com/4th-Forum.

So, tools are available to help you make a decision in this crowded race. Our own due diligence included interviewing 10 of the candidates. Two declined our invitation to meet with the editorial board.

For us, the choice was clear. Several candidates in the race are qualified to serve in the House, but Dan Newhouse stood out as best prepared for the job.

He has the experience, conservative credentials and temperament needed to successfully represent the district.

Newhouse served four terms in the state House of Representatives, from 2003-09. We count his extensive experience in a legislative body as an important asset.

We also like his experience in the private sector. The Newhouse family operates a 600-acre farm near Sunnyside. His business and agriculture background was a good match for his legislative district and the same will be true or the sprawling, mostly rural 4th Congressional District.

Business and agricultural groups singled out Newhouse for recognition as a state lawmaker. The Association of Washington Business honored Newhouse with its Cornerstone Award. He was named Guardian of Small Business by the NFIB and Legislator of the Year by the Washington State Potato Commission. The Yakima Valley Dairy Women gave him the Friend of the Industry award.

He has served as president of the Yakima County Farm Bureau, Hop Growers of America and Hop Growers of Washington.

Newhouse served as director of the state Department of Agriculture from 2009-13. We're impressed by that service for a couple of reasons.

First, the fact that he was appointed to the post by Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire indicates an ability to take a bipartisan approach to solving problems.

Second, he garnered an excellent track record in the office. Agricultural exports from Washington doubled during Newhouse's tenure.

Newhouse's responses to our questionnaire were thoughtful, level-headed and showed a thorough understanding of the issues facing Central Washington.

We encourage you to read through them, then cast your ballot for Newhouse.

The Tri-City Herald editorial board recommends Dan Newhouse for U.S. representative from Washington's 4th Congressional District.