U.S. Sen. Patty Murray has shown valuable bipartisanship and has been a strong representative for the state of Washington. Voters should elect her for another term.

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VOTERS are rightly exasperated with Congress for its politicking and inability to solve major problems such as the nation’s rising debt.

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Patty Murray

Patty Murray

U.S. Senate

Strengths: Shows valuable bipartisan leadership and has been a strong representative for the state of Washington

While Congress grew more dysfunctional in recent years, Murray found common ground and still got things done."

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Auburn Republican Chris Vance is trying to tap into this frustration in a scrappy campaign to unseat Democratic U.S. Senator Patty Murray, the most powerful and longest-serving member of Washington’s congressional delegation.

It’s good that Murray has a credible politician to challenge her and elevate the campaign debate.

Even so, voters should re-elect Murray to represent them again in the Senate. Since she was first elected to the seat in 1992, Murray has been a strong advocate for Washington state.

While Congress grew more dysfunctional in recent years, Murray found common ground and still got things done. She developed rapport with Republicans such as House Speaker Paul Ryan, with whom she negotiated a critical budget deal in 2013, avoiding a government shutdown.

That skill, combined with her strong support for trade, education, veterans and transportation, make her the resoundingly clear choice. Electing Vance out of frustration with partisan gridlock would be a pyrrhic victory.

Another example of Murray’s performance is the Every Student Succeeds Act that she introduced and saw through to its approval last year.

The ESSA was a major overhaul of education policy that replaced the problematic No Child Left Behind Act. ESSA updated testing requirements, reduced federal involvement in state education programs, increased early-education support and ended a waiver program that caused grief in Washington state.

To get this done as a member of the minority party, Murray formed an alliance with Tennessee Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander and others to overcome partisan divides. While signing ESSA into law in December, President Obama joked that it was “A Christmas miracle: A bipartisan bill signing right here.”

Vance is the most experienced of 16 running against Murray but his campaign still pales next to hers. He makes good points about political failings in Congress and the dangers of ever-increasing federal debt.

He knows how the political games are played, having been a state representative from 1991 to 1993 and King County Council member from 1994 to 2001. He ran for Congress in 2000 and lost to U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, then led the state Republican Party until 2006. Now Vance is a public affairs consultant.

Murray and Vance both oppose the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump, whose views Vance has called “insane.” But Vance said he won’t vote for Hillary Clinton, either. Murray is pro-choice; Vance says he is pro-life and would vote against federal funding of abortions but not for a federal law that overturns Washington state’s abortion law.

They differ on the question of gun control. Unlike Murray, Vance does not support a ban on assault weapons. Instead of additional gun controls, he favors better enforcement of existing regulations.

Perhaps Vance should continue his quest for fresh leadership by running for the 8th District congressional seat during the next election.

In the meantime, Washington voters should choose Patty Murray to continue representing them in the Senate.

Information in this article, originally published July 22, 2016, was corrected July 23, 2016. The change clarifies Chris Vance’s service in the Legislature and his position on abortion.