Oct. 7 Daily News editorial
Our third and final endorsement this year for the 19th Legislative District may sound familiar.
Again, we're recognizing a veteran moderate Democrat for being in touch with local residents and for working for their interests on issues that often aren't front-burner topics in Olympia.
Again, the challenger is a newcomer whose track record raises skepticism over whether or not he or she would accomplish much in the Legislature.
Today, we're endorsing Rep. Brian Blake of Aberdeen for a sixth term in the house. (We've previously endorsed Sen. Brian Hatfield and Rep. Dean Takko.)
All three legislators work well together, Blake said, adding that such cooperation isn't always the norm even when all the legislators in a district are from the same party.
Blake said the three Democrats' centrist approach has angered some members of their own party. He told us he often teams with the Republican minority rather than the majority Democrats to get a bill out of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, which he serves as chairman and provides oversight on forestry and fishery issues that resonate with Southwest Washington residents.
"I'm just an old logger from the west side" of the mountains said Blake, 52.
He's more than that. His expertise and ability to see timber and ag issues from both sides have allowed him to become a respected and influential voice in the Legislature, as his wide variety of endorsements attests.
An avid hunter, Blake has attempted to loosen restrictions on hunting cougars with dogs and is outspoken about the Department of Fish and Wildlife's efforts to reintroduce wolves to Washington, which he calls "fatally flawed." He opposes Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber's plan to gradually move commercial fishermen off the mainstem of the Columbia River into side channels.
Blake's race against Longview businessman Tim Sutinen has a distinctive flavor, largely because Sutinen is running as an independent, not a Republican.
Sutinen made his first run for the Legislature as a Republican, but ran under a third-party banner against Blake two years ago, getting a surprising 47 percent of the vote in 2010's anti-government, anti-incumbent environment. Since then he's stayed in the news, at least in Longview, as a vocal opponent of the city's red-light cameras. He also reappeared as a Republican this spring, serving as the local coordinator for libertarian Ron Paul's bid for the GOP's presidential nomination.
Reducing regulations on small businesses remains Sutinen's campaign theme, but it's no longer his only theme. Some of the positions he advocates -- bringing competition to Labor and Industries insurance and reducing duplication of permits -- are almost identical to Blake's.
While some may find a certain Don Quixote appeal to Sutinen's goal of becoming what he said would be the first independent member of the Washington Legislature since the 1920s, we're far from certain how such a "party of one" could be in any way effective. Sutinen insists he won't caucus with either the House Republicans or the Democrats, opening the possibility that neither party would offer him a committee assignment.
Whatever the advantages and drawbacks of a two-party system may be, Blake has worked effectively within them and provides our region with a capable, moderate and thoughtful voice in Olympia. We recommend that district voters grant him another term in office.