When you give people time to consider questions and work up their answers, sometimes you will be amazed at how thoughtful and organized people can be. The four challengers for Jaime Herrera Beutler’s seat who responded to The Enterprise’s 3rd Congressional District candidate questionnaire share their thoughts and make their cases for election in their responses to our questions.
The question everyone asks: Why are you running for Congress, against a seemingly entrenched incumbent?
David McDevitt: Many people in our district struggle to pay their bills each month, including rent and healthcare. I am running for the second time and my goal is to help as many people as I can. Policy can be used to improve the lives of all people in Southwest Washington.
Dorothy Gasque: The only way to remove an entrenched incumbent is to run against her. If we want a representative democracy, rather than an oligarchy, we need to be willing to participate, even when it seems hard. Jaime Herrera Beutler is funded by large corporate and special interest groups. If we want to get money out of politics, as I do, she needs to run opposed by a candidate who is not for sale.
Carolyn Long: Two factors contributed to my decision: political polarization and the election of President Trump. My recent University research has been on the increasing polarization of our political institutions and within our electorate. This is due to many factors, including the fact that many elected officials are more extreme in their beliefs and that polarization is aligned with income inequality. I would bring a practical, pragmatic, common sense approach and a willingness to work across the aisle.
Michael Cortney: I’ve worked hard in my life and I was fortunate to belong to a good union and retired at 60, but much of what I have was because of the sacrifices of the men and women who paved the way so that my generation could succeed. I believe that greed and selfishness have infested our politics, and it is destroying the moral fabric of our democracy, and our children will pay the price for that.
Why do you think you have a chance of being in the Top 2 after Aug. 7 and then winning the General Election?
McDevitt: During the 2016 election cycle, I built name recognition. I have furthered name recognition this cycle by holding over 80 town hall and community chat events. More importantly, I am self-funded with a war chest of $681,000 and will remain beholden to the people.
Gasque: People are looking for a dynamic candidate that is willing to disrupt the political status quo and not for partisan affiliation; this district voted for Obama in 2008, for Sanders in the 2016 primary, and went for Trump in 2016. They want to participate in campaigns funded by ordinary voters, not by special interests or a candidate’s personal wealth. I am that candidate.
Long: We are running a professional, grassroots campaign powered by people and individual contributions. In the second quarter of 2018, our campaign raised more from individuals than the incumbent, who relies on contributions from PACs like the NRA and anti-choice groups. Money is important because to win in the district one must have the resources to get her message out to voters. We have those resources. Recent polling shows me tied with the incumbent.
Cortney: Politics nowadays are very fluid and anybody’s chance of winning this election could pivot on the smallest of things. I believe in my message, so my plan is to stay true to that message, and true to the person that I am. The people themselves will decide whether or not my message has merit. Money in politics is a part of that message, and that is why I am not taking any donations.
What is your stump message to the voters you come into contact with?
McDevitt: My experiences as an attorney, financial manager, and small business owner have prepared me to draft legislation, balance Congressional budgets, and fight for Main Street jobs. As a U.S. Army veteran, I know what it means to serve our country.
Gasque: I tell them that I will fight to get money out of politics and to end our interventionist wars. We’ve been at war for my son’s entire life and he’s a high-school senior.
Long: In contrast to the incumbent, I am dedicated to being present, accountable and committed to working for Southwest Washingtonians who are tired of asking, ‘Where’s Jaime?’ on the issues that matter to them most. As your next Congresswoman, you will always know where I stand on the issues and why I voted the way I did. As part of my regular duty, I will hold in-person town halls throughout the district throughout the year.
Cortney: My message is about our children’s future. Money in politics is the driving force that separates us, and the average person does not benefit when we have a divided government. The people who will ultimately pay the biggest price for this division is our children, and because we’re too busy thinking about what’s owed us, we are not preparing the future for them. We need a congressperson who will put people before money and ideology.
What issues are driving you, that you want to work on once you get to D.C.?
McDevitt: I feel strongly that I can address the transportation and infrastructure needs of our region by bringing capital investment for broadband internet to rural communities and establishing a joint powers authority with equal seats at the table for transportation solutions between Oregon and Washington states.
Gasque: Most importantly I’m going to propose comprehensive anti-corruption and ethical reform of Congress so that it represents us, and not money and lobbyists. I’m going to work to improve economic security for all Americans, and part of that will be pushing for Medicare for all.
Long: We need to immediately address the Trump Administration and Republican Congress’ undermining of the ACA and make sure that Americans have access to affordable care and affordable prescription drugs, while also pursuing a public option as we work towards healthcare for all. We also must invest in infrastructure projects that will bring family wage jobs to our communities. And, with a Democratically controlled Congress, we must place a constitutional check on the executive branch.
Cortney: The primary concern for adults should always be their children’s future, but our divided government has become stagnant, and our politics are always focused on a two-year election cycle. If elected to Congress my focus will be on our children’s future, and that means getting the money out of politics, preparing the future for global warming, and working to put less money into bombs, and more money in infrastructure, education, and research and development.
Can you summarize what you are hearing from voters on the stump?
McDevitt: People are struggling to pay their bills each month, especially rents and healthcare. Low-wage workers and social security recipients don’t have enough income. I will fight for healthcare reform, increased minimum wages, and enhanced social security. I’ll fight for family-wage jobs and protect our environment with innovative ideas.
Gasque: People in Southwest Washington are worried about economic stability, even survival. We’ve had a 39% increase in homelessness, which includes people who have jobs but aren’t making a living wage, and senior citizens who can no longer make it on social security losing their housing. I hear about transportation when people who can’t afford to live near to jobs that pay enough can’t effectively commute to the ones that do and from the small business owners whose customers can’t effectively reach them. There’s fear and worry, especially in Pacific County, about the Trump administration’s immigration policy. Everywhere, voters want the government to represent them rather than the interests of the biggest donors.
Long: Throughout the district, from Goldendale to Raymond, people tell me they are concerned about the cost of healthcare and losing their existing healthcare or being denied coverage due to preexisting conditions. Health care is under attack by this Administration, which is a direct threat to peoples’ well-being and economic security. In Congress, I will work to protect peoples’ health care, expand coverage, provide protections for people with preexisting conditions, and control the outrageous cost of prescription drugs.
Cortney: I always ask people, “What would you tell your congressperson if they were here?” The overwhelming answer is “I don’t know.” The top things people talk about are taxes, money for education, and both sides of immigration. We seem to be divided on gun control, but most people don’t have a problem with a three-day waiting period. Many don’t like the idea of taxing food, and a lot of people just said “be good.”
In this era of partisan, single-party rule, why do you think you can be an effective legislator who is willing to compromise on the big issues that divide the nation?
McDevitt: I have talked with people in our district from all walks of life and every political ideology; Using my mediation skills and civil discussion, it is often possible to find common understanding in terms of identifying issues and possible solutions. Both listening and flexibility are necessary on all sides.
Gasque: As a veteran, I’m used to working with people who I don’t always agree with to accomplish our shared goals and I’ll continue to do so in office. However, I don’t think the truly big issues we have are the ones that divide us. Americans all over the country agree that their elected officials shouldn’t be for sale, that reasonable gun safety needs to happen, and that their economic future and healthcare could be a lot more secure than it is now. The supposedly divisive issues are largely marketing, driven by special interests and people who want to sell you something. Once you look past the rhetoric, it isn’t hard to find the things we all agree on.
Long: My professional experience makes me uniquely qualified to be an effective legislator. As a professor at WSUV, I have a background in the study of politics and policy, and in 2015 I started the Initiative for Public Deliberation (IPD), the goal of which is “to strengthen democratic government by replacing rigid partisanship with listening and conversation.” My work with IPD is a reflection of how I would govern, which would emphasize collaboration, problem-solving, and civility.
Cortney: I consider myself a compassionate conservative. I’m a fiscal conservative, but I believe the government has a responsibility for the general welfare of its citizens. That means providing healthcare for everyone and caring for the sick, the poor, and the elderly. I believe that I can be effective in bringing everyone together, because I am not tied to political ideology or moneyed interests, and I am committed to the wishes of the people in my district.