By the Herald editorial staff
This editorial is about the 16th District race for the state House of Representatives.
It is also about the Tri-City Herald editorial board's philosophy of political recommendations.
There is a fine Republican candidate running for this seat, Terry Nealey of Dayton, the prosecuting attorney there for 16 years.
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He has wisdom, solid ideas and a background that puts him very close to the roots of Eastern Washington. He was born in Walla Walla and grew up on a farm in Whitman. Upon graduation from Washington State University, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He spent his time in Fort Meade, Md., and Korea. Upon leaving the service, he enrolled in Gonzaga Law School and graduated in 1974.
He is a very attractive candidate -- solid family, solid values and right on the issues -- of which, more later.
Laura Grant, a Democrat, was appointed to the seat after her father, longtime Rep. Bill Grant, D-Walla Walla, died in January, just one month after being diagnosed with lung cancer. He had served, often as the lone Demo-cratic legislator from Southeastern Washington, for 22 years.
She did a good job during this year's session.
Walla Walla is her home and her family has been in Eastern Washington since 1858. She attended Walla Walla Community College, then transferred to Eastern Washington University, where she earned her teaching degree. She earned her master's degree in 1993, a library media endorsement in 1995, a teaching English as a second language endorsement in 2001, and her National Board of Professional Teachers certification in 2006.
She served on the Prescott School Board and as a co-president of the PTA. She has been teaching in the 16th District for 21 years.
And she has shown, throughout her life, the same independent streak that enabled her father to win election after election as a Democrat in what is a substantially Republican district.
Like him, though, she is more of an Eastern Washington Democrat -- one whose politics are more in line with agriculture than, say, downtown Seattle.
In fact, going back to the issues we mentioned earlier, she and Nealey agree on pretty much all of them:
-- Both say they support nuclear power and hydropower being counted as a renewable energy.
-- Both would support a bill that would grant additional water rights to farmers growing biofuel crops.
-- Both disagree with a state cap-and-trade initiative.
-- Neither agrees with a Northwest Power and Conservation Council draft that says that as much as 85 percent of the region's energy needs throughout the next 20 years can be achieved through conservation.
-- Both oppose increased taxes.
They seem to differ on their perceptions of Gov. Chris Gregoire. He thinks "Gregoire has been a very effective governor." She says, "Gregoire scares me."
We recommend voters choose Grant.
Which brings us to the editorial board's philosophy. This is an unusual case, where we think party labels really count.
We will not embarrass them, but we will assert that many, many Eastern Washington Republican legislators have told us over the years just how valuable it was to have Bill Grant in the Democratic caucus in Olympia. His name on a bill could get it considered when a dozen Republican names would not.
Democrats dominate the Legislature, and it is unlikely that will change soon.
This, then, is a pragmatic recommendation. We're aware that pragmatism is not a compelling (or even forgivable) reason for some voters.
Nevertheless, there it is.
Eastern Washington needs a Democrat in Olympia -- but a Democrat who is sympathetic to Eastern Washington values.
Laura Grant has that job, and is doing pretty well at it.
We say, let her keep it.
The Herald editorial board recommends Laura Grant for the state House of Representatives.