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U.S. Reps. Denny Heck and Derek Kilmer, the two freshman congressmen from the South Puget Sound, have lived up to the expectations voters had for them in 2012, when they were elected. Both deserve to be returned.

Even as junior members of the House’s minority Democratic Party, Heck and Kilmer have records of solid performance. Kilmer of Gig Harbor had the harder job — he faces comparisons to Norm Dicks, who represented the 6th Congressional District for 36 years as a powerful advocate for the district’s Navy installations. But Kilmer has made a promising start, securing $120 million in new investment for Naval Base Kitsap and working to support national defense and veterans’ programs.

Kilmer’s most serious challenger is Republican real-estate broker Marty McClendon. McClendon says he is running because he supports limited government. He does not appear to have a grasp of congressional issues.

Heck of Olympia, who represents the newly created 10th Congressional District, has displayed the same hardworking competence he did as former Gov. Booth Gardner’s chief of staff, demonstrating more interest in policy than partisanship. He was this state’s lead on the marijuana-banking issue, helping convince federal regulators to ease banking restrictions. Last year, he won a bill reforming the reverse-mortgage market. Heck is leading the House fight to reauthorize the federal Export-Import Bank, critical to Washington exports.

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Most distinguished of Heck’s challengers is Republican Joyce McDonald, who has a long record of public service on the Pierce County Council and in the state House. However, she finds few faults with Heck’s performance and does not present a case for change.

Heck and Kilmer are the clear choices.

Editorial board members are editorial page editor Kate Riley, Frank A. Blethen, Ryan Blethen, Sharon Pian Chan, Lance Dickie, Jonathan Martin, Erik Smith, Thanh Tan, William K. Blethen (emeritus) and Robert C. Blethen (emeritus).

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