To replace U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott, Brady Walkinshaw’s brand of pragmatic progressivism is the best choice for the 7th Congressional District.

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U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott’s retirement after 28 years gives Seattle voters a blank slate to define what they want from their representative in the U.S. House. The Seattle Democrat defined the “liberal lion” ideological approach, but he was notoriously weak representing Seattle’s meat-and-potato needs in Washington, D.C.

In a big field of candidates to replace McDermott and redefine the role, state Rep. Brady Walkinshaw stands out. The Democrat has the capacity to be a progressive leader from one of the nation’s most left-leaning districts. He also has the temperament, pragmatic instincts and drive to squeeze legislation out of the gridlocked Congress.

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Brady Walkinshaw

Brady Walkinshaw

7th Congressional District

Strengths: Intention to move beyond liberal orthodoxy; temperament, pragmatic instincts

Walkinshaw has the capacity to be a progressive leader from one of the nation’s most left-leaning districts. He also has the temperament, pragmatic instincts and drive to squeeze legislation out of the gridlocked Congress. ..."

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Walkinshaw, 32, is the Whatcom County-raised, Princeton-educated son of a Cuban immigrant. He worked on international food policy at the Gates Foundation before his appointment to the state House in 2013. He and his husband live in Capitol Hill. If elected, he would be the first openly gay member of Congress from Washington.

Like other leading candidates, Walkinshaw is an unabashed progressive. He would be an advocate for gun control, marriage equality, comprehensive immigration reform, a $15 minimum wage and reining in Wall Street excesses. He is a serious policy wonk.

Walkinshaw sets himself apart from other candidates with an extra-mile intention to move beyond liberal orthodoxy. As a lawmaker in Olympia, Walkinshaw found common ground with staunch conservatives. He flew to Spokane to meet with the hard-right chair of a key committee, brokering a compromise that will help felons re-enter society. And he pushed through an important mental-health reform by partnering with Republicans.

On federal policy, Walkinshaw embraces making community and technical colleges free, but veers back to fiscal reality by eschewing Bernie Sanders’ plan to make all public universities free. He is a fan of the Affordable Care Act, but says it’s time to focus on health-care inflation. He said he would work to win federal funding for maintaining Interstate 5, a notion that is vital, but unsexy.

That kind of sensible approach is in short supply at the moment. And it would position him to get things done in Washington, D.C., where realpolitik is also badly needed.

The nine-candidate field includes three other Democrats: state Sen. Pramila Jayapal and King County Councilmember Joe McDermott — who is not related and shouldn’t be confused with Jim McDermott — and former Burien Mayor Arun Jhaveri.

Jayapal has raised the most money with the help of Bernie Sanders’ fundraising network, and she is an accomplished immigration-reform advocate. But Jayapal is a much more ideologically driven candidate and likely would use the congressional seat from Seattle to mount national-issues campaigns. After decades of Jim McDermott’s wandering interests, Seattle needs a locally focused representative.

Walkinshaw fits that description, and more. He is the best candidate for the 7th Congressional District.