Sen. Patty Murray has shown herself to be a strong, passionate advocate for Washington state -- and the Walla Walla Valley. The focus on this corner of the state is generally not the case with even the most engaged U.S. senator.
Yet, over the years, Murray has been an advocate for this Valley in obtaining necessary congressional action and funding.
Murray was the driving force in saving the Jonathan M. Wainwright Memorial VA Medical Center from being closed and then securing funds to build a new clinic at the site. Murray has been a tireless advocate for veterans here, across the state and the entire nation.
Murray also worked closely with the local U.S. Highway 12 Coalition to secure funds so the highway from Walla Walla to Tri-Cities can be expanded from two lanes to four lanes. This summer eight miles of the four-lane divided highway from Walla Walla to Frenchtown was opened. The cost was over $50 million, more than $13 million of it federal funds secured by Murray and U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane.
And just recently Murray helped secure $500,000 for Walla Walla Community College to establish a wind energy technology training program.
Murray has sought these and other funds from Washington in the light of day. She posts her funding requests on her website for all to see.
This is a refreshing approach considering some of the funding shenanigans going on in Congress with the use of secret earmarks.
Murray's Republican challenger, Dino Rossi -- who we see as a solid candidate -- has made fiscal responsibility a key issue in his campaign. Rossi is concerned, as we are, about the growing national debt and the deficit spending approved by Congress.
But Murray has taken a pragmatic stand toward the federal budget. She understands the need to reduce spending and voted to slash $14 billion from President Obama's budget request.
When Rossi visited Walla Walla he said he would have had no problem supporting Murray's VA and highway spending requests as long as they were not garnered through the earmark process and were vetted in the open. (He was not asked about the wind-energy program.) But would Rossi be as tenacious as Murray in fighting for those funds? It's difficult to imagine anybody being that tenacious, particularly in regard to funding for veterans.
Rossi has a record of success as a state lawmaker. He has shown himself to be willing to work with Democrats to get things done and do the right things.
Nevertheless, if Rossi is elected -- even if Republicans take control of the Senate -- we do not see him as strong an advocate for Washingtonians as Murray has been, and will be in the future.
We recommend voters re-elect Patty Murray to the Senate.