Maria Cantwell’s experience, pragmatism and seniority make her the best choice to return to her U.S. Senate seat.
Those strengths are visible in the Democrat’s dogged work on issues important to Washington, including trade, energy and against media consolidation.
In the midst of a Congress overwhelmed or paralyzed, Cantwell is taking the long view on issues close to home. Credit her for persuading the Obama administration to embrace a national freight strategy that promises to improve mobility for cargo moving through local ports, protecting more than 1 million Washington jobs in freight-dependent industries.
Her challenger, Republican state Sen. Michael Baumgartner, has some good ideas about tackling a bloated federal deficit and limiting U.S. military intervention abroad. To keep Social Security solvent, Baumgartner would support means testing or raising age-eligibility requirements. Cantwell says Social Security will be solvent until 2033.
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Baumgartner criticizes Cantwell’s votes for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the current debate revolves around how quickly the U.S. leaves Afghanistan. His desire for an earlier exit than the administration plans is the right one.
Ultimately, Cantwell has the advantage because of tireless, state-based work in Congress. In his two years in the state Senate, Baumgartner has built a solid political record, including working across the aisle on some issues. He has promising opportunities in the state Legislature.
In two terms, Cantwell has earned her reputation as a workhorse. She has been a key presence in international trade missions and nimbly translates those lessons into job-friendly policies back home. She worked hard for Boeing to get the Air Force tanker contract. Cantwell smartly highlights the connection between aerospace jobs and necessary investments in science, technology, engineering and mathematics education and employment help for jobless veterans.
She’s an independent thinker. Cantwell bucked her party recently to be the only Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee voting for fast-tracking Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations. This would be a critical win for our trade-dependent state since it forces Congress to vote on a trade deal within 90 days.
Baumgartner has provided a credible challenge. But Cantwell remains the better choice.