SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Sen. Patty Murray is vying for a fifth term in the U.S. Senate, and if the Democrat wins she would be one of the longest-serving senators in Washington history.
Murray faces Republican Chris Vance, who is seeking to become the first Republican elected to the Senate from the state since 1994. In Washington’s liberal 7th Congressional District, Pramila Jayapal faces Brady Walkinshaw in the contest to succeed retiring Democratic Rep. Jim McDermott. Both Jayapal and Walkinshaw are state lawmakers and Democrats. The 7th District includes most of Seattle.
Vance, the former Washington Republican Party chairman, hopes his message of fiscal discipline and social moderation would resonate with state voters long turned off by the GOP.
Murray, first elected in 1992, dismisses Vance’s criticism that she is responsible for congressional gridlock and the failure to address deficit spending and shore up Social Security and Medicare. During the campaign she pointed to her work with Republicans on the budget and education as examples of how she can accomplish things in a tough environment.
In 2013, Murray teamed with Rep. Paul Ryan, now the Republican House speaker, to craft a national budget deal between the two parties that included spending increases in 2014 and 2015 in exchange for extending budget caps further into the future.
Murray also collaborated with Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, on an overhaul of the No Child Left Behind education law. Murray has said the rewrite lifted punishment the federal government held over Washington public schools and returned more accountability to the states.
The Democrat has steadily risen in power in the nation’s capital. She’s the ranking minority member on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee and sits on the appropriations panel. If Democrats take control of the Senate, she could possibly chair the Appropriations Committee or the HELP panel.
In the 7th District race both Jayapal and Walkinshaw advocated positions designed to appeal to the state’s most left-leaning congressional district.
Jayapal pushed for a single-payer health care system run by the government to reduce costs and increase access, favors increasing the federal minimum wage and wants to find a way to move the millions of undocumented immigrants in the country toward citizenship. Walkinshaw advocated for a ban on fossil fuel extraction on federal lands and offshore and wants to tax carbon emissions to develop alternative energy sources to deal with climate change.