In a race for the House of Representatives, it’s often tough to beat an incumbent. Especially one who is popular, who sits on a few powerful committees and has not given the public any glaring reason to evict him.
In the case of Rep. Rick Larsen, this is the way it currently stands. Larsen, who currently represents the 2nd Congressional District, which spans Whatcom, Skagit and part of Snohomish counties, sits on the House Committee on Armed Services, Committee on Transportation and the Committee on Small Business — all three of which make important policies that affect both the nation and our area. Larsen has also done a signifcant amount for Whatcom County during his eight years in office, including:
- Larsen threw his support behind Bellingham in its bid to become the future home for the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration’s Pacific Fleet, which is now located in Seattle. Though other ports in the district are also vying for the NOAA fleet, “there is really only one answer for NOAA, and that is Bellingham,” he said at a public gathering on the waterfront in November 2007.
- Larsen cosponsored the Protect American Commerce and Travel (PACT) Act, which would require the Department of Homeland Security to complete a cost-benefit analysis before implementing new border crossing requirements.
- Larsen has been active in securing federal funding for Bellingham Technical College, the Bellingham Police Deptartment, the Port of Bellingham, the Northwest Agriculture Business Center, and local boat builders such as All American Marine.
Larsen’s opponent, Rick Bart, is also an impressive candidate, however. While Larsen has widespread support in Whatcom County, Bart still gave a strong showing in the primary — especially considering he is most popular in Snohomish County. He garnered enough respect from local voters to give him 34.65 percent of the primary vote in August, and in Snohomish County he did even better with 42 percent of the vote to Larsen’s 50 percent.
Bart has been in law enforcement for 37 years, most of which was served in the Snohomish County Sheriff’s office. He was elected Snohomish County Sheriff in 1995 and held that position until he retired in January 2008. He has served with many professional and community organizations, including Washington Association of County Officials, National Sheriffs Association, Snohomish County Big Brothers and Sisters and Mt. Baker National Forest Resource Committee.
But even with the work he has done, Bart would be starting over in the House. He would spend his first year just getting up to speed, and his second year running for re-election again. This, when compared with Larsen’s record and his sitting on three important House’s committees, is not enough to upset Larsen. It would be in our community’s best interest to keep Larsen where he is.
Editor’s note: The Bellingham Business Journal joined with sister papers the Marysville Globe and the Arlington Times to interview both Larsen and Bart for this editorial. Included in the interviewing and editorial process were Scott Frank, Stuart Chernis and Tom Corrigan from Marysville; Sarah Arney and Kirk Boxleitner from Arlington; and Vanessa Blackburn and Isaac Bonnell from the Bellingham Business Journal.
by Rik Dalvit