Aug. 21 Daily News editorial
Between his last election and this one, Washington State Rep. Ed Orcutt estimates he lost 100,000 constituents and gained 100,000 new ones when his hometown of Kalama was redrawn into the 20th District.
“I’ve been out introducing myself to a lot of new people,” Orcutt told The Daily News’ Editorial Board. “If there was a festival or parade inside the district this summer, I was probably in it.”
Orcutt, to us, seems a good philosophical fit for his new district, which now includes almost all of Lewis County, one of the most conservative in the western part of the state. On the November ballot, he’ll be opposed only by another Republican -- political rookie John Morgan of Rochester -- as no Democrat appeared to be anxious or willing to test Orcutt on his new turf.
We endorse Orcutt for a sixth term. While we don’t endorse all of his positions, we’ve always found him to be philosophically consistent and responsive to constituents’ requests. We also share his opinion that the state House of Representatives might be the best arena for his service.
“I was sounded out about running for the U.S. House in 2010,” he said, “but I had no problem passing that along to Jaime (Herrera Beutler). I enjoy where I’m at. I think I prefer being one of 98 to being one of 435.”
Orcutt is unapologetically pro-business and is usually a reliable vote in the House for any measure easing what Orcutt perceives as a regulatory burden Washington places on commerce.
At the same time, he has an independent streak that occasionally casts him as the “1” in a 97-1 vote.
“I vote my core principles,” he said. “Not a straight party ticket.”
These core principles made Orcutt an early signatory of the Grover Norquist “I will never vote to support a tax increase” pledge, a stand rejected by, among others, GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna. Orcutt favors repeal of the new state law legalizing same-sex marriages -- all but mandatory for anyone running this year as a Republican -- but does so in a way that troubled us and may trouble some voters.
“Marriage should be between one man and one woman for the purpose of creating and raising children,” he said. “To me, the last part has to be in the definition. It all comes back to having the raising of kids at the core of a marriage.”
We can think of other reasons why people might want to get married -- or why married couples might choose not to have or raise children. Whatever their gender, Orcutt sounded as if he’d deny them permission to wed.
Orcutt’s range of pro-business positions includes being in favor of the two coal terminals proposed for Washington and being in favor of limited, exploratory mining near Mount St. Helens.
“We’ve got to stop saying ‘no’ to these proposals in Washington,” he said. “They can be executed safely. We need the jobs. Cowlitz County is where the rails, the road and the river come together. We need to show we’re open for business.”
That’s Orcutt, and it ought to play well in his new territory. It actually played quite well in his old one as Orcutt will be seeking a sixth term in the House.
We found Morgan, the 49-year-old owner of a trucking company, to be refreshingly direct. His campaign will be limited in that he’s promised not spend more than $5,000 and hasn’t had time to make many personal appearances.
“I’m not taking any corporate money,” he said. “I’m also not a polished politician. But, if we keep electing the same guys to do the same things, we’ll never get out of this fix we’re in.”
This is Morgan’s first bid for public office, however, and he’s chosen to start at a level that strikes us as overly ambitious. Orcutt is our choice for Position B in the 20th.