This is one of those “throw the bums out” years. But the South Sound’s three U.S. representatives aren’t bums, and it would be dumb to throw them out.
In fact, the region could lose much of its influence in Congress if Norm Dicks of the 6th Congressional District, Dave Reichert of the 8th and Adam Smith of the 9th lost their jobs.
In terms of raw clout, Dicks is the mightiest of the three – one of the mightiest in the country, for that matter. His 34 years in the House and parliamentary skills have landed him in positions of enormous power in the House Appropriations Committee: chairman of the defense subcommittee and vice-chair of the interior subcommittee.
As such, he has helped secure Washington’s share of the federal budget, steering countless appropriations toward the state and the 6th District, which covers the Olympic Peninsula, University Place and parts of Tacoma and Lakewood. Federal funding of the cleanup of Puget Sound, for example, has multiplied many times over on his watch. Dicks is also one of Congress’ leading authorities on defense and military policy, which makes him an ideal advocate for Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor.
If the Democrats retain control of the House in November, Dicks is in line to chair the appropriations committee itself.
His Republican challenger, Doug Cloud of Gig Harbor, is an attorney and a principled libertarian conservative. We appreciate his challenge – all members of Congress should have to answer to the voters come election time – but Dicks’ long and successful tenure in Congress is no reason to send him packing.
The clout question cuts another direction in the 8th District, which covers eastern and much of suburban King and Pierce counties. Reichert, a moderate conservative, is a member of the House’s Republican minority, but there’s a very real chance this minority will become a majority after November. In that case, Reichert would likely be the region’s only connection to that majority.
In any case, Reichert – formerly sheriff of King County – continues to grow in his position and has demonstrated a refreshingly congenial and bipartisan temperament. His Democratic challenger, Suzan DelBene of Renton, is smart and articulate, but she hasn’t articulated a case against re-electing Reichert.
In the 9th District – Puyallup, Federal Way and parts of Tacoma and Lakewood – Republican Dick Muri of Steilacoom is challenging Smith, who is seeking an eighth term.
Muri’s considerable experience on the Pierce County Council and the Steilacoom School Board – preceded by an impressive Air Force career – make him the best prepared of the challengers in these three races.
We’re still inclined to stick with Smith, a pragmatic Democrat who’s likely to remain effective even with a pruned Democratic caucus. Smith keeps winning re-election in this swing district by staying connected to his constituents, aggressively delivering “retail level” congressional services and accumulating influence in Congress.
We think that kind of influence is a good thing. The South Sound needs more of it, not less.
To read previous election endorsement editorials, go to www.thenewstribune.com/endorsements.