A trio of Southridge seniors found an opportunity for a civics lesson on Tuesday by watching Sen. Patty Murray campaign in Kennewick.
After meeting with the Herald's editorial board, Murray made a quick whistle stop at the office on Vista Way where volunteers are working on behalf of her campaign and for fellow Democrats Jay Clough, running for Congress; Carol Moser, running for state representative; and Tiffany Coffland, running for re-election as Franklin County treasurer.
Murray breezed in and dominated a room in which most people towered over the petite politician, working her way through roughly 40 volunteers while wearing a wide smile and offering a hearty handshake.
"It's great to be here in the Tri-Cities with a ton of supporters," she said. "This is a great community. It's wonderful to see young people out working hard."
Brooks Gribble, 17, and Bill Landefeld and Zak Reams, both 18, weren't there to volunteer, but to see some of the process they've been learning about in their advanced placement government class put to action in the real world.
"We wanted to come out and learn what it's all about," Landefeld said.
Reams said he is registered to vote in the upcoming election, and Landefeld said he plans to before the Oct. 25 in-person deadline.
Neither has decided whether to support Murray.
The teens said they were impressed with the way she worked the crowd and stopped to talk to each person, but they're still learning and forming their own political views.
And they haven't yet had a chance to see Dino Rossi, her Republican opponent, in person.
"But that would be interesting," Gribble said.
Murray spent about 20 minutes talking with supporters and local media at the Kennewick campaign office. She touched on subjects including Hanford funding, the economy and the federal budget.
But mostly she said she wanted to thank the people working to get her re-elected and to impress upon Tri-Citians the importance of participating in the Nov. 2 election.
"There are a lot of folks focused on making sure everyone knows what's at stake in this election," she said.
A couple of key issues she discussed while in the Tri-Cities were the extension of a sales tax deduction for Washingtonians and the need to pass a law requiring disclosure when corporations pay for political ads.
She told the Herald's editorial board she expects the Washington state sales tax deduction on federal income tax returns will be extended when Congress returns after the November election.
"It's been very frustrating to have it blocked for political reasons," she said of recent maneuvering in the Senate.
The tax break saves state residents up to $500 million annually. During the last week of September, Republicans and Democrats blocked efforts to extend the break to Washington and six other states.
The sales tax deduction expired at the end of 2009.
w Michelle Dupler: 582-1543; firstname.lastname@example.org