It's deja vu for voters in the 8th District as Republican Brad Klippert and Democrat Carol Moser duke it out a second time for the seat representing Benton County in the state Legislature.
Klippert, a sheriff's deputy from Kennewick, bested former state Transportation Commission Chairwoman and Richland city Councilwoman Moser in the 2008 general election when the pair vied for the seat vacated by retiring Rep. Shirley Hankins, R-Richland.
But Moser said it was her platform he won on that year. Klippert denied the allegation and confronted Moser about the claim at a meeting with the Herald's editorial board.
"Why -- by her admission and several people here in this room today -- I am one of the most fiscally and socially conservative (legislators), would she accuse me of stealing her platform?" Klippert said. "Why would I want to steal the platform of a declared moderate Democrat?"
"Because it happened," Moser retorted.
She said she clearly remembers attending a candidate debate at Carmichael Middle School in 2008 and hearing Klippert talk about education and nuclear power for the first time -- and taking positions she'd held all along.
"I realized, 'Oh my gosh! He had been saying everything I was saying up until that night," Moser said.
She said a political consultant told her that adopting the opponent's platform is a common tactic if a candidate feels pushed onto the ropes in an election.
"That was what I felt had happened," she said. "I wanted to put you on notice that I have these ideas moving forward, and I'll be danged if all of a sudden midstream you start talking about things I'm talking about."
This time around, the two have publicly differed on a number of issues, including their visions for how the Hanford site will be developed once cleanup is finished.
Klippert said at a forum for business leaders earlier this month that he could see a state prison or an oil refinery being built on the nuclear reservation.
He suggested a prison would bring jobs, and that the state should be prioritizing public safety despite cutting the budget in the wake of mounting deficits.
"I keep hearing we need to release prisoners out of our jails because we don't have bed space," Klippert told the Herald. "There is miles and miles of open country out there. It would be an excellent spot for a future Washington state penitentiary, and would keep our streets and communities safer."
And an oil refinery would lower fuel prices in Washington, giving families a little more cash in their pockets.
"One reason prices are so high is because we don't have enough refineries," he said. "We need another refinery. Why not bring crude oil by rail to the Hanford area and refine it and bring down fuel prices? What a plus for Washingtonians if we can bring fuel prices down."
Those ideas left Moser scratching her head, as the Tri-City community generally has united to develop the Hanford site as a hub for science, technology and energy research.
She said neither a prison nor an oil refinery would bring the kind of high-paying, high-tech jobs that will keep the local economy bustling once Hanford cleanup is finished.
"I think it is not a good fit for the Tri-Cities," she said.
The two also sparred over climate change, with Klippert saying he's not convinced fossil fuel emissions are to blame for climate change at the same time Moser was speaking at a conference at Stanford University about fossil fuel alternatives.
"I say if it's going to hurt Washington state business at this very important economic time, we better make sure these decisions are based on fact, and I'm not convinced any changes we make in our state would make any changes in the world's atmosphere," Klippert said at the time. "I don't want to risk Washington state's economy and hundreds of thousands of jobs to make dramatic changes at this time."
Moser said she would like to see Washington state as a leader -- along with Oregon and California -- in making the transition to alternate fuels and modes of transportation while at the same time encouraging economic vitality.
As Transportation Commission chairwoman, she advocated during the 2010 legislative session for a bill adding economic vitality as a stated policy goal for Washington's transportation systems.
But the key issue facing whoever represents the Eighth District in the upcoming 2011 session will be the state budget and a deficit estimated by the state budget director at about $4.5 billion in September.
Klippert said he'd rein in spending and ensure that expenditures aren't exceeding revenues.
"You go in there thinking of all of the wonderful things you would like to do as a legislator, but when you're facing down the barrel of billions of dollars of budget deficits, there are a lot of things you can't do," he said. "Expenditures have to meet our income and that is not happening now in Washington state."
Moser said budget solutions will have to be bipartisan, and should look to the future by investing in education and using the state's strengths to pull it out of recession.
"I can hardly wait to go to Olympia," she said. "I want to roll up my sleeves. I want to build relationships and start marrying the resources in this community with the resources at the state level. ... If we can harness that talent and potential, we can help lift the state out of some of its revenue problems."
* On the net: bradklippert.weebly.com, carolmoser.com