Here’s why the Herald recommends sending Cantwell back to the U.S. Senate

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., right, shakes hands with her Republican challenger, Susan Hutchison, left, following a debate at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Wash.
Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., right, shakes hands with her Republican challenger, Susan Hutchison, left, following a debate at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Wash. AP

In the U.S. Senate race between Democrat Senator Maria Cantwell and Republican challenger Susan Hutchison, we see no reason to toss away 18 years of institutional knowledge.

We recommend voters return Cantwell to office.

Over the years, she has been a strong protector of many interests that are key to helping our state and region thrive.

As the ranking Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, we remember when she refused to back down when a newly appointed energy secretary proposed budget cuts for the Hanford nuclear reservation.

In the summer of 2017, she told Energy Secretary Rick Perry that, “Hanford is the largest nuclear waste cleanup site in the world. That is why you cannot do it on the cheap … Every energy secretary comes into the office – pressured by some OMB (Office of Management and Budget) person who knows nothing about science, trying to do it on the cheap … I guarantee you it can’t be done.”

This was one of her feistier moments, and it was memorable because she is often quiet and thoughtful. But after three terms in the Senate, she has confidence and she can bring out that strong, determined voice when she thinks it necessary.

Throughout most of this campaign, though, it has been Hutchison with the forceful opinions and questions, suggesting Cantwell has little to show after three terms in office.

Hutchison is a strong candidate, and we appreciate that she decided to run and give people a choice – especially those who are fans of President Donald Trump.

She is an obvious Trump supporter, and we know there are many Tri-Citians who are as well. Hutchison was a Seattle TV news anchor for two decades before becoming leader of the Washington State Republican Party, a position she held for five years.

Nearly all of Hutchison’s positions follow the party line, and we imagine she will appeal to many in our typically “red” community.

But we don’t agree with Hutchison’s claim that Cantwell has been ineffective. She may not be flashy, but Cantwell has managed to get a lot done in her own pragmatic way.

To name recent examples – Cantwell fought against an attempt to significantly increase entry fees to national parks, she secured more money to fight wildfires in the Northwest, she spoke up for our cherry growers caught in the recent trade war, and she blasted the Trump administration for trying to privatize the Bonneville Power Administration – a horrible idea that continues to pop up time and again.

And we now have her on the record saying she is opposed to breaching the Snake River dams.

We were part of a recent joint interview with Cantwell and Hutchison, and both were asked where they stood on removing the dams in order to increase salmon runs.

Both said they are against the idea.

Hutchison said, “As long as I’m your senator we will not touch the Snake River dams.” And she went on to discuss how important the dams are to Central Washington’s economy.

Cantwell, too, said she is not in favor of removing the Snake River dams, and that there are multiple factors affecting salmon runs.

This is significant because we don’t remember the last time Cantwell publicly stated her position on the issue.

Nationally, health care, taxes and immigration are huge topics that tend to divide people. Hutchison is as red as can be. Cantwell is definitely blue.

But while Hutchison comes across as extremely partisan, Cantwell can work across the aisle.

Just this week President Trump signed bipartisan legislation to combat the opioid epidemic in our country, which included provisions introduced by Cantwell.

If Cantwell returns to the Senate, we would like to see her fight harder to protect the Snake River dams. We’d also like to see her more often. It was difficult to get her to visit this fall, and we need her to make more of an effort to come home and touch base.

Even so, Cantwell is the best candidate in this race.

The Tri-City Herald recommends Maria Cantwell for the U.S. Senate.