(July 29, 2016) — Time’s running out. Find it, fill it out, and send it in!
Voters in Washington state have had their Primary Election ballots for a couple of weeks now, but they only have until this Tuesday, Aug. 2 to mail them in or drop them at a local ballot drop box (find boxes in your county).
Given all the drama of the presidential race and the party conventions, it’s easy to forget that Congress has as much — or more — direct impact on the course this nation takes than the White House. That makes the congressional races on your primary ballot — particularly the race for the open 7th District seat with multiple candidates — of critical importance. How these incumbents and challengers perform in the primary election will determine the likelihood of their success in November’s general election.
If you’re looking at the list of labor’s endorsed candidates from the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO to help you decide who to support for Congress, you’ll note that some races have no recommendation at all. That’s because none of the candidates for federal office who voted for “Fast Track” Trade Promotion Authority last year received the WSLC’s endorsement. Fast Track is intended to speed passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and other NAFTA-like “free trade” deals while blocking Congress from changing them to protect workers, consumers, or the environment.
This list of non-endorsed Fast Track supporters includes all four of the state’s Republican members of Congress: Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler, Dan Newhouse, Dave Reichert, and Cathy McMorris Rodgers. But it also includes some Democratic incumbents who have earned labor’s endorsement multiple times in the past: Sen. Patty Murray and Reps. Suzan DelBene, Rick Larsen, and Derek Kilmer. (Get a detailed explanation of why union delegates took this stand here.)
That said, the congressional endorsements the WSLC did make are very important ones. Your unions analyzed the candidates’ issue questionnaires and interviewed each of them. Delegates from unions across the state assembled to vote on which ones should earn endorsement as true advocates for raising wages, promoting good jobs, and improving public services. Here’s who did (in alphabetical order):
Denny Heck (10th CD) — Rep. Denny Heck has an impressive 95% lifetime AFL-CIO voting record on working families’ issues. He joined Reps. Adam Smith and Jim McDermott in voting against Fast Track and says all trade agreements should consider the impact on U.S. jobs and workers. Like all Fast Track opponents, he strongly supports trade but adds, “If we want to build an economy ready to compete with the rest of the world, we need to broaden this trade effort to include a commitment to actions that will bolster our economy back home.”
Pramila Jayapal (7th CD) — The race to replace retiring Rep. Jim McDermott in the Seattle area’s 7th congressional district includes a number of strong candidates who’ve demonstrated support for working families. But Pramila Jayapal stood out. As a State Senator, she has a perfect 100% lifetime voting record on working families’ issues. Raising wages, investing in public infrastructure, and protecting American jobs are central to her campaign. She is an outspoken opponent of the TPP and other “free trade” deals that prioritize corporations and investors over people and the planet. (For much more information about Pramila, see the column written by Jim’s brother Mark McDermott in The Stand.)
Jim Moeller (3rd CD) — As a state legislator representing Vancouver, Jim Moeller has a 91% lifetime voting record on working families’ issues. Jim is a healthcare professional with 30 years of experience working for Kaiser Permanente as a mental health and addiction counselor, so he understands the importance of affordable health care and quality public services. He opposes the TPP. Jim is challenging Republican incumbent Jaime Herrera Beutler, who voted for Fast Track, supports the TPP, voted to repeal Davis-Bacon prevailing wage standards and make it harder to join a union, and has just a 14% AFL-CIO voting record.
Joe Pakootas (5th CD) — A former Laborers union member in Spokane, Joe Pakootas served as CEO of the Colville Confederated Tribes. He took a tribe struggling with financial losses and turned it around, saving multiple businesses from failure, maintaining and growing jobs, and earning the prestigious Bradford Award given to the top minority businessman in Washington. His campaign is focused on creating family-wage jobs, strengthening Social Security and Medicare, and he is strongly opposed to the TPP. Joe is running against entrenched Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris, part of the House GOP leadership team known for dysfunctional internal turmoil, obstructing everything President Obama proposes, and threatening to shut down the government unless austerity budget cuts are imposed on federal services. She has a 10% lifetime AFL-CIO voting record.
Alida Skold (8th CD) — A member of the Northshore School District teachers’ union, Alita now runs her own business consulting firm. She strongly supports the freedom to organize unions and believes “a strong economy and nation depend on jobs that provide safe working conditions, fair and living wages (out of poverty), and benefits for all workers… Every worker must have the right to organize and bargain collectively to determine their pay, benefits, and working conditions.” She strongly opposes the TPP and says protecting Social Security and Medicare from efforts to cut benefits and privatize the system needs to be a priority for the next Congress. Alida is challenging Republican Rep. Dave Reichert, who voted for Fast Track and is an outspoken proponent of the job-killing TPP.
Adam Smith (9th CD) — As the only incumbent Democratic member of Washington’s delegation so far to commit to opposing the TPP (see photo above) after also voting against Fast Track — and with his 89% lifetime AFL-CIO voting record (including 100% last year) — Adam Smith earned labor’s enthusiastic endorsement. A lifelong advocate for people left behind by the U.S. economy, Adam has authored and successfully promoted legislation to provide job training, health care benefits and extended unemployment to laid-off workers. He has also worked to ensure greater accountability and transparency for American pension systems so that companies will meet their financial obligations to their employees and retirees.
In addition to Congress, there are many other important races on your primary election ballot, including those for statewide offices and state Supreme Court. Check out the full list of WSLC-endorsed candidates.
And most importantly… find that ballot, fill it out, and send it in!