For the first time in our country’s history, only one man stands between a woman and the office of U.S. president, and the political ground on which he stands shakes while he tweets. In the ever-uglier 2016 presidential contest, Donald Trump may have finally met his Waterloo.
His recently revealed 2005 hot-mic brio about grabbing women by the private parts is so beyond the pale, the idea that Hillary Rodham Clinton will be our next commander in chief is becoming more and more likely.
Clinton may very well break a 241-year old glass ceiling, but it’s worth noting that Washington’s Democratic Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell helped break the political mold.
Murray, who’s up for reelection this year, was the state’s first female U.S. senator. She campaigned on a promise that she would change D.C. culture, and she did. She has addressed issues like health care, homeland security, veterans affairs and the national budget, never forgetting the state’s interests.
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If elected to a fifth term, the Whidbey Island resident will be the third-highest ranking member in the Senate, and the longest-serving member of Washington’s congressional delegation.
She’s the ranking member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee; she serves on Subcommittees for Labor, Health and Human Services, Education; and is the chairwoman of the Senate Budget Committee. Her long list of legislative accomplishments demonstrate a record of common-sense proposals.
She sought to modernize Social Security for single seniors in the RAISE Act; she proposed the 21st Century Women’s Health Act to increase the availability of birth control; and she worked to overhaul the widely hated No Child Left Behind Act.
Just last week, President Obama signed a Murray bill mandating the Department of Veterans Affairs pay for reproductive support. The bill has a two-year provision, but for the first time in 24 years, combat-wounded veterans struggling with infertility will get the help they need.
In what has become the biennial threat of government shutdowns, Murray also has earned the reputation of mediator-in-chief. In the 2013 budget crisis, she negotiated an eleventh-hour deal with Rep. Paul Ryan, preventing a government shutdown.
Not everyone was a fan of that agreement, including Murray’s Republican challenger for the Senate, Chris Vance, who equated it to “articles of surrender.” Vance, of Auburn, is a political consultant and adjunct professor at the University of Washington. He cites the ever-increasing federal debt as his impetus for running against Murray.
No political newcomer, Vance served on the King County Council for eight years and one term in the state House from 1990-1992. In 1996, he ran unsuccessfully for state superintendent for public instruction, and in 2000, he lost big in a U.S. House race against Democrat Adam Smith.
Still, conservatives have a credible choice in Vance. This former state GOP chairman — he served from 2001 to 2006 — was prescient early this year as one of the first prominent state Republicans to disavow Trump. He calls the Tea Party a malignancy and said it should scare everybody. He also wisely recognizes his state’s free-trade interests by unequivocally supporting the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
But if campaign coffers and primary election results tell the story, Vance’s chances this year are yet again slim.
At this point, Murray is so flush with cash, she’s giving it away to Democrats who are trying to win tight Senate races in other states. She recently transferred $1 million of her almost $12 million in campaign funds to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which she used to chair.
The fallout will be messy from this year’s federal election. It will take an astute politician and a bipartisan problem-solver to reach any level of compromise. It also could help to have access to, and a respectful relationship with, a former two-term Democratic senator from New York named Hillary Clinton.
There’s no one better equipped to cross the great divide than Sen. Patty Murray.