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Commentaries and editorials

Murray or Smiley? Here's Our Choice
in this Contentious, WA race for U.S. Senate

by Editorial Board
Tri-City Herald, November 1, 2022

To have a Democrat telling the Biden Administration that our region needs the dams
would be helpful as pressure to breach them mounts in Washington, D.C.

"What will the Tri-Cities do when we no longer have Senator Patty Murray fighting for Hanford cleanup?"

That question -- or something close to it -- is uttered by those in the know every time Hanford's proposed federal budget is decimated and then, in the end, miraculously restored thanks to the efforts of Sen. Patty Murray.

If re-elected, our community can be assured that Murray will spend the next six years of her term continuing the fight to maintain federal Hanford cleanup funds, which is critical to the Tri-City economy.

But Republican Tiffany Smiley of Pasco is running a fierce, partisan-fueled campaign and polls show she is closing in on the veteran Democrat. Among Smiley's constant hits against the 30-year incumbent is that Murray is a career politician who has been in the Senate too long.

But with congressional seniority comes power and influence.

If Smiley wins this election, that's what Washington state will sacrifice on a massive, national scale.

Smiley has never held public office before, and if she is elected her learning curve will be monumental.

Murray, on the other hand, already has proven herself to be a strong and reliable force for her people who live in Washington state.

And when it comes to Hanford cleanup money, she has delivered time and again.

Last March, the Biden administration proposed cutting $172 million from Hanford's current budget for the next fiscal year.

But after Murray had repeated public and private conversations with the administration, the new budget proposal announced in June was actually higher than current spending levels by about $18 million, bringing the total to $2.6 billion.

Local leaders called the turnaround unprecedented, and said it wouldn't have happened without Murray. She is continuing the pressure even now to make sure that Hanford funding is secured.

The budget for Hanford cleanup is always in jeopardy, it seems, and there is a real fear that without Murray the funding would be cut drastically, which would stall progress, gut the work force and wreak havoc on the Tri-City economy.

Hanford Nuclear Site 2005 and projection for year 3890.  Some contamination from Hanford slowly spreads to Columbia River Murray also fought similar Hanford budget battles during the Trump and Obama administrations, and managed to secure the money needed even then.

And while the Tri-Cities is most closely affected by what happens at Hanford, cleaning up decades of nuclear waste that was produced during World War II is important to all citizens of Washington state.

Replacing Murray with Smiley would mean giving up clout in D.C. that takes years to develop.

Yet Smiley's voice echoes the frustration of many in our state who are dealing with inflation, rising gas prices, skyrocketing rents, out-of-reach home prices and other economic woes.

Being the challenger, it's easy to lob complaints and criticism.

Conveying detailed plans on how to fix the nation's struggles is more difficult -- and that's where Smiley's campaign is light.

We met with both Smiley and Murray in a joint, virtual editorial board. Throughout the hour, Smiley hit on talking points with a passion, but Murray provided the insight. Watch the video and see for yourself.

We were concerned earlier this year when Murray joined Gov. Jay Inslee in creating yet another study to determine whether the Snake River dams should be breached. But in the end the joint report found that the benefits of the dams are too critical and now is not the time to tear them down.

To have a Democrat telling the Biden Administration that our region needs the dams would be helpful as pressure to breach them mounts in Washington, D.C.

We know Smiley is a popular candidate throughout the state and especially in the Tri-Cities. The story of her husband, Pasco native Scotty Smiley, who was injured in Iraq and later became the first blind active-duty officer in military history, is inspiring.

Tiffany Smiley helped nurse her husband back to health and fought bureaucracy to help him succeed. She believes that experience is enough to recommend her as a state senator.

But when it comes to navigating national politics and protecting Washington state interests, Murray is a champion -- veterans' benefits, bans on surprise medical bills, lowering the cost of prescription drugs, keeping childcare facilities open during the COVID shutdown, boosting clean energy programs and on and on.

She has too many accomplishments to list, but keeping cleanup money coming to Hanford is of utmost importance to our region.

Again, Tri-City leaders often say they wonder where the Tri-Cities would be without Sen. Murray.

Let's not find out.

The Tri-City Herald recommends Democrat Patty Murray for U.S. Senate.

Behind Our Election Recommendations

Who decides the recommendations?
Members of The Tri-City Herald editorial board is comprised of experienced opinion journalists and community members, and is separate from The Herald's newsroom. Conversations are on the record.

What does the recommendation process entail?
Whenever possible, The Herald editorial board meets with opposing candidates at the same time. The questions are largely focused on a candidate's qualifications and goals. The editorial board then discusses the candidates in each race and decides who to recommend. Board members seek to reach a consensus on our recommendations, but not every decision is unanimous.

Is the editorial board partisan?
No. In making recommendations, members of the editorial board consider which candidates are well prepared to represent their constituents -- not whether they agree with us or belong to a particular political party. We evaluate candidates' relevant experience, their readiness for office, their depth of knowledge of key issues, their understanding of public policy and their ability to work with the current board . We're seeking candidates who are thoughtful and who offer more than just party-line talking points. The editorial board will endorse both Republicans and Democrats.

Why are the editorials unsigned?
Our election recommendations reflect the collective views of The Herald's editorial board -- not just the opinion of one writer. For the 2022 election, the board includes: Cecilia Rexus, Herald editorial writer; Laurie Williams, Herald executive editor; Jack Briggs, retired Herald publisher; Ken Robertson, retired Herald executive director; Matt Taylor, retired Herald editorial writer; Mike Paoli and Martin Valadez, community representatives.

Editorial Board
Murray or Smiley? Here's Our Choice in this Contentious, WA race for U.S. Senate
Tri-City Herald, November 1, 2022

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