KENNEWICK — As a former Marine, Jay Clough knows a thing or two about getting back up again after being knocked down.
Even though Clough took a pounding in November 2010 when incumbent U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings beat him 67 percent to 32 percent, the Kennewick Democrat plans to step into the ring again in 2012.
This time he hopes he will have spread his message to enough Central Washington voters that he can unseat Hastings from the 4th Congressional District seat the Pasco Republican has successfully defended since 1994.
"In the original race I said I would run twice," Clough said. "I felt very strongly that whoever it was who ran against Rep. Hastings had to make that commitment. ... This is a very large district. It takes considerable time and effort to get name recognition. I'm going to give it another try and take that message out again."
On Saturday, the Washington 4th Congressional District Democratic Central Committee unanimously voted to back Clough in his second bid for the seat.
Committee Chairman George Fearing, who himself tried to unseat Hastings in 2008, said Clough is a smart, aggressive, well-spoken candidate who has the knowledge and talent to represent the district well.
"He has a knowledge of the Far East, where we do a lot of trading," Fearing said. "And he understands the Republicans are trying to destroy the middle class and destroy Social Security and Medicare. He is willing to stand up for those programs."
By starting the campaign with more than 18 months to go before the November 2012 election, Democrats are hoping that will give Clough a chance to hammer home his message about Hastings' record in Washington, D.C.
In particular, local Democrats are displeased with Hastings' recent budget votes that would transform the Social Security and Medicare safety net programs for elderly Americans.
"I foresee Social Security and Medicare being key issues in the 2012 election, and that's what our committee and I expect Jay Clough's campaign will focus on," Fearing said.
Clough said he wants to show 4th District voters that Hastings' votes in Congress often run counter to their best interests.
"Most of the time the things he does in Washington, D.C., have an adverse effect on the citizens of his district," Clough said. "My job over the next 18 months is to show them his record. ... If I can get around to enough people and have the right message, then it will work."
-- Michelle Dupler: 509-582-1543; firstname.lastname@example.org