Washington voters face a clear choice in the U.S. Senate race.
Incumbent Patty Murray and challenger Dino Rossi are well-known to the state's electorate, and their political views are sharply delineated between right and left.
It ought to be an easy decision.
But here's the rub -- we need what each has to offer.
America is facing some of the toughest economic times in the its history, and the Democrats' attempts to resuscitate the economy have pushed an already atrocious national debt to frightening levels.
There's no doubt, Congress could use Rossi's conservative leanings and budget-cutting experience. Regardless of how difficult the task might be, the nation has to curb spending and stop piling on debt.
But we also need Murray's experience and vision. Cuts alone can't create a brighter future for Washington. We need smart, targeted investments to construct the foundation for economic recovery.
Murray is the best candidate to make that happen, and despite our frustration over the federal debt, we're recommending voters return her to the U.S. Senate.
During her three terms, Murray has proved to be a tenacious fighter for Washington's interests and has amassed the political power to win most battles.
For many, this year's election is a referendum on health care reform and deficit spending.
That's understandable, but it would be a mistake to trade away Murray's proven track record in fighting for the state's needs in exchange for Rossi's ideological purity.
As a state senator, Rossi demonstrated an ability to put party politics aside and work across the aisle to solve tough problems. That's part of the reason he's a serious candidate in this important race.
However, Rossi's campaign rhetoric in this political season hasn't strayed far from the Republican playbook. It's enough to raise questions about what comes first -- the state's needs or the party line.
Murray, on the other hand, has a record of challenging Republican and Democratic administrations to advance the state's interests.
That support has been crucial to keeping Hanford cleanup on track.
The fight for adequate funding for the site is constant, and Murray has played the lead in preventing successive administrations from diverting cleanup money to other uses.
We're confident Murray understands the Mid-Columbia's needs. She can speak authoritatively on our community's plans for turning surplus Hanford lands into an energy park.
More importantly, she has the ability to help turn that vision for our future into reality.
Her ties to the region run deep -- college at Washington State University in Pullman, summer job at Sacajawea State Park in Pasco and a grandfather who moved to Kennewick in 1916.
As we noted in her previous campaign, it's Murray's more recent connections to the Mid-Columbia that are most persuasive -- blocking Veterans Affairs' attempt to close its facility in Walla Walla, working to bring the HAMMER training facility to Richland, securing funds for the Hanford Reach Interpretive Center and more.
Congress must get spending under control, regardless of which candidate Washington voters send to the U.S. Senate.
Philosophically, Rossi is better prepared for the task. But as a practical matter, Murray is far better positioned to protect state and Mid-Columbia interests during what's certain to be a painful process.
We need Murray's experience and clout to help ensure the region's successful transition to a post-Hanford economy.
The Herald editorial board recommends Patty Murray for the U.S. Senate.