Improving the nation's immigration system is a personal issue for Republican Dan Newhouse, one of 12 candidates in the 4th District Congressional race to replace retiring Rep. Doc Hastings.
Newhouse, 58, and his family operate a 600-acre farm near Sunnyside where they grow hops, tree fruit, grapes and alfalfa. He served as state agriculture director under Democratic Gov. Christine Gregoire from 2009-13.
Newhouse knows the issues facing farmers who are uncertain of whether they will have enough migrant farm workers to meet demand, he said.
"It's very important for us, certainly for border security, but also to make sure we have an adequate supply of labor," he said.
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Newhouse favors an improved guest worker program, as well as a long-term solution -- one he said is not amnesty -- for immigrants in the United States illegally. He wants to allow immigrants to apply for legal status if they have no serious criminal history, require them to learn English, pay their taxes and a penalty and then wait for citizenship.
"Having an illegal workforce for several of our key industries is not a sustainable situation," he said.
Newhouse also said he would work to gather support for completing the water storage projects for the Columbia and Yakima basins. Farmers in the Yakima Valley haven't seen new storage since the 1930s, while the water table continues to drop for those who would be served by the Columbia project.
Since storage was added, weather and climate have changed, while farmers are growing a wider variety of commodities on more acreage, Newhouse said.
"We need to make sure we have the water supply we need to grow to get through those drought years," he said.
Newhouse hopes that the state government, as well as cities and counties, will also help pay for the projects.
Newhouse will work to secure funding for Hanford cleanup, he said. He also plans to continue Hastings' efforts to make Hanford's historic B Reactor part of a Manhattan Project National Historic Park.
"I think that's a great idea to make sure current and future generations can continue to learn about Hanford's role in history," he said. "It should be cheaper than mothballing it."
Newhouse wants to make reducing the $17.6 trillion national debt a priority. He opposes raising taxes, he said, but hopes that improving the economy will create more tax revenue. He would like to see reduced spending, but would have to look to determine exactly where.
"There's going to be some difficult decisions our lawmakers face," he said.
Newhouse had raised $358,014 for his campaign through June 30, according to the Federal Election Commission. That was well ahead of any other candidate in the race. He released his second TV advertisement Tuesday. Kennewick attorney George Cicotte, who has one commercial, is the only other candidate on TV.
Newhouse had 24 people donate the maximum $2,600 by late March, the Federal Election Commission's last deadline when individual contributions are available.
They were Prosser retiree Steven C. Elerdling, Yakima fruit grower John N. Bloxum Jr., Prosser retiree Patsy J. Mercer, Faye Zimmer of Beaverton, Ore., Grandview farmer Jacob Veldhuis, Maryland business owner Alexander W. Barth, Prosser winemaker Dana Andrews, Othello farmer Jon C. Warling, Outlook dairy farmer Jake N. Deruyter, Beaverton marketing business owner Allan N. Zimmer, Central Washington State Fair Director Gayle E. Hall of Yakima, Outlook dairy farmer Genny S. Deruyter, Grandview farmer David Wyckoff, Moxee lobbyist Steven George, Paterson farmer Nicole K. Berg, Toppenish hop farmer Steven Perrault, Grandview farmer Anna Veldhuis, Naches homemaker Nancy J. Long, Sunnyside homemaker Susan Scheenstra, Grandview farmer Jill Den Hoed, Naches business owner Gary Long, Olympia lobbyist Dan Coyne, Yakima auto dealer Robert D. Halland and Toppenish farmer Reggie Brulotte.
Other donors included Wapato homemaker Patsy Hollingbery, farm owner Bud Hollingbery, Washtucna farmer Bret D. Blankenship and school nurse LeeAnn Blankenship, who donated $2,500 each.
To see a complete list of Newhouse's donors, go to tricityherald.com/donors. U.S. representatives are paid an annual salary of $174,000 and are elected to two-year terms.
Primary ballots started being mailed to registered voters Tuesday in Benton and Franklin counties. Washington has open primaries for partisan offices, meaning all candidates, regardless of political affiliation, compete against each other. The two candidates receiving the most votes go on to the general election.
For other election stories, go to tricityherald.com/election.
Geoff Folsom: 509-582-1543; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @GeoffFolsom