Republican Chris Vance criticized incumbent U.S. Sen. Patty Murray for her support of Hillary Clinton — although Vance also has expressed strong opposition to Republican Donald Trump.
In his campaign for U.S. Senate, Republican Chris Vance has leveled more intense criticism at Donald Trump than he’s aimed at his opponent, Democratic incumbent Patty Murray.
An early member of the GOP’s Never Trump faction, Vance has called the party’s presidential nominee appalling, dangerous and un-American — just in the last month.
During Sunday’s second and final televised debate in the Senate race, Vance’s strongest critique of Murray was that after 24 years in office she’s the kind of entrenched partisan responsible for congressional dysfunction.
“Senator Murray is a wholehearted supporter of Hillary Clinton’s, and I’ve yet to hear her criticize Democrats for anything,” Vance said during the debate at Microsoft’s Redmond campus.
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“I know where her heart is,” Murray replied about the Democratic presidential nominee. “I’ve worked with her and watched her as secretary of state lift up women around the globe.”
One problem with Vance’s knocks on Murray’s partisanship is that she can blunt such attacks with high-profile examples of working with Republicans. She did so in the debate and in her first TV ad, which began airing earlier this month.
Using her huge advantage in campaign contributions, Murray’s ad pointed out that she worked with now-House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., on a 2013 budget deal and with Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.,last year to rewrite the federal education law known as No Child Left Behind.
Even if Vance wanted to hit Murray more aggressively — or note that one think tank ranks Murray as more partisan than Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash. — he has faced a big obstacle. Vance hasn’t advertised on major TV stations because he had raised just $387,000 through September, according to the latest campaign reports.
That’s far less than any GOP Senate general-election candidate in 30 years. (Dino Rossi raised $10 million in 2010, when he won 48 percent of the vote and gave Murray her closest challenge.)
With $12.4 million in contributions, Murray has enjoyed such a fundraising edge that she gave $1 million last month to other Senate Democratic campaigns.
The fundraising gulf between the candidates is one reason prominent forecasters such as the Cook Political Report deem the race noncompetitive and the FiveThirtyEight website says Murray has a 96 percent chance of winning.
Had the race been more contested, some differences between Murray, the fourth-highest-ranking Senate Democrat, and Vance, a former state Republican Party chairman, may have carried more weight.
On trade, Vance has said he is a strong supporter of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal involving 12 countries that’s been criticized by Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., as a potential job-killer. Murray has said she will evaluate the proposal when it gets to the Senate, particularly its impacts on labor and the environment.
On gun control, Murray backs a ban on high-capacity magazines and so-called assault rifles. Vance said he does not support banning rifles that so many people own, and that he’d rather strengthen background checks.
When it comes to the federal minimum wage, Murray wants to raise it to $12 an hour by 2020. Vance has said the current $7.25 is too low but maintains Murray’s proposal is too much too fast and would hurt small business and cost jobs.
In what has been a top priority for Vance, he argued again Sunday that the $19.7 trillion federal debt threatens to become a dangerous drag on the U.S. economy. He favors the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles plan that calls for raising the Social Security retirement age, to 68 by 2050, and raising the cap on taxable income for Social Security, now at $118,000.
Murray has noted that the federal government ran a surplus during Bill Clinton’s presidency. But George W. Bush’s tax cuts and the Iraq war, which she opposed along with 20 other Democratic senators, ended that. She has said she’s opposed to raising the Social Security retirement age and would instead seek a debt-reduction plan that doesn’t sting the middle class, without specifying what that is.
The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, is doomed to fail, according to Vance. He said he supports subsidies for needy people to buy private insurance. While Obamacare is “not perfect,” Murray has said she’ll work to improve it and that she supports a public-government insurance option.
Despite their differences, Vance said at the end of Sunday’s debate, “Thank you Senator Murray. You and I have shown how a debate should be conducted in this campaign.”