4 challengers vie for Newhouse’s seat in Congress


Voters won’t have to dig deep to find the differences between the three leading candidates running to represent Washington’s Fourth Congressional District.

The freshman incumbent, Dan Newhouse, 61, is a Sunnyside farmer and Republican who favors limited government, a balanced budget and strong national security.

He is challenged by a fellow Republican, Clint Didier, 57, an Ephrata farmer who leans further to the right, and by Doug McKinley, 53, a Richland lawyer running as a Democrat on a mission to restore the middle class.

The race also includes Republican Glenn Jakeman of Yakima and Democrat Jake Malan of Pasco. Jakeman is a retired electrician. Malan has not been available for interviews since filing for election.

A rematch with a twist

In 2014, Newhouse very narrowly defeated Didier, a former NFL player, in the race to succeed Richard “Doc” Hastings in the House of Representatives.

With one term behind him, Newhouse has a voting record. Didier is attacking it.

Didier said he filed for a rematch to ensure Newhouse didn’t run unopposed. That was before the three other candidates entered the race.

Newhouse is not the conservative voters supported in 2014, Didier said during a recent candidate forum organized by the League of Women Voters and the Latino Coalition.

He singled out Newhouse’s December “yes” vote on the federal budget bill, aka the “omnibus bill,” which funds a wide range of federal activities.

“He says he’s a conservative, but he voted for the omnibus bill,” Didier said, saying it funded Planned Parenthood, the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), supported sanctuary cities and shifted money from Social Security to Social Security Disability.

The Omnibus Bill is actually 12 separate appropriation bills passed in a single move. The arrangement forces representatives to support some programs in order to fund others.

Newhouse counters that Didier’s criticism is unfounded.

“None of that was in the Omnibus Bill,” he said.

Newhouse and Didier agree on one point — both want to eliminate “omnibus” bills in favor of streamlined legislation that doesn’t force lawmakers to take the good and the bad.

Newhouse said the bill did fund issues important to Washington, including Hanford cleanup.

“I worked really hard to get those funding levels. I couldn’t very well convince people we needed that money in Hanford and then turn around and vote against it,” he said.

Didier insists the bill funds a liberal agenda that includes welcoming Syrian refugees.

Newhouse and Didier agree on one point — both want to eliminate “omnibus” bills in favor of streamlined legislation that doesn’t force lawmakers to take the good and the bad.

“We’ve got to get away from these omnibus bills,” Didier said.

The top issues

McKinley wants Congress to take on income inequality, which he called the leading threat to the American middle class.

He and his opponents agree on issues such as economic stability, but they differ on the causes and solutions, he said.

“People are witnessing the same events and they’re giving two or three separate explanations for it,” McKinley said. “We’re seeing a lot of what used to be family wage jobs ending, and the replacement jobs are much lower pay.”

McKinley wants to compel U.S. corporations to devote a greater share of their earnings to employee salaries, which he said will lift many of America’s working poor out of poverty and off public benefit systems.

“The economic data show these companies are earning plenty of money and could pay a higher wage,” he said.

McKinley opposes Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s call to deport 11 million illegal immigrants as unreasonable, and a humanitarian catastrophe that would hurt agriculture.

He prefers a higher federal minimum wage, and for the House to pass the 2013 comprehensive immigration bill, which has already cleared the U.S. Senate.

The climate is what God wants it to be because this is God’s earth.

Clint Didier

Didier said he’s focused on border security, sovereignty and reigning in a federal bureaucracy and tax burden that is strangling America.

He cites the What’s Upstream campaign as an example of the government antagonizing agriculture. The federal Environmental Protection Agency, through a grant to a nonprofit, funded the Washington-based campaign to encourage the state’s residents to advocate for clean water regulations.

The campaign used stock imagery to imply dairy farmers allow cows to wade into streams.

“It’s an all-out assault,” Didier said.

Didier supports Second Amendment gun rights and said that climate change is real, but not caused by humans.

“The climate is what God wants it to be because this is God’s earth,” he said during the candidate’s forum.

I have a concrete record that you can look at.

Dan Newhouse

Newhouse was one of 145 members of the House who demanded the EPA account for the use of federal funds for advocacy work.

He also favors a pathway to citizenship for law-abiding immigrants. He agrees that the climate is changing, but disagrees that humans are causing it.

Newhouse continues to be alarmed by the growth in the size and scope of the federal government, he said. He supported increased spending on security. More recently, he’s seen an increase in interest in violence targeting police.

Newhouse said the tone and tenor of the 2016 primary campaign is similar to the 2014 campaign, except that he didn’t have a voting record then.

He stands behind his voting record and said he continues to advocate to reign in the growth of the federal government, to pass a balanced budget amendment, to enhance national security and keep fighting to fund Hanford.

Newhouse supported two measures through the reconciliation process that sent bills to the president, he said. One would have prevented federal funding for abortion and the other would have gutted the Affordable Care Act. Both were vetoed.

He said the Social Security fund transfer was in a separate bill that he opposed.

“I have a concrete record that you can look it. It’s important that people are critical of it are accurate in the criticisms they make,” he said.

In the online voter’s guide, Jakeman indicated his top priorities are state’s rights, border control, balancing the budget and eliminating some outdated programs.

In the online voters’ guide, Malan indicated his top priorities including supporting the Bill of Rights, state sovereignty, fair trade rather than free trade and restoring military strength.

What’s next

The top two finishers in the Aug. 2 primary will advance to the Nov. 8 general election, regardless of party affiliation.

Newhouse’s re-election bid is endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Business and the National Rifle Association, among others.

McKinley has been endorsed by the Benton County Democrats, Franklin County Democrats, Yakima County Democrats and the Eighth and 16th Legislative District Democrats.

Didier said he is not actively seeking endorsements, though he expects to announce several shortly.

All ballots must be returned or postmarked by Aug. 2.

Wendy Culverwell: 509-582-1514, @WendyCulverwell