It would be hard to get fired up about five-term incumbent Rick Larsen, (latest news, according to his web site: "Larsen Expresses Views on Environmental Assessment for the Sea-Based X-Band Radar"), if it wasn't for the fact that his main opponent, Snohomish County Council member John Koster, is a Tea Party Republican with an endorsement from Sarah Palin and financial backing ($2,800) from the Citizens United Political Victory Fund, a conservative PAC that’s also keen on Tea Party lulus Michele Bachmann and Sharron Angle.
Local archconservatives like Koster too. Larry Stickney, the anti-gay activist who ran the R-71 campaign against Washington State's domestic partner law, is running Koster’s campaign. (Koster has paid Stickney nearly $20,000 in consulting fees.)
Koster, a property rights advocate in the state legislature back in the late 90s (he consistently ranked at or near 100 percent with business lobby groups and around 7 to 8 percent with the AFL-CIO and Washington Conservation Voters) is in sync with this posse of national and local right-wing stars. He's also out of sync with his district.
Koster is a hardline social conservative: He labels the immigration reform bill “amnesty”; says “marriage is between one man and one woman” (was that sound bite worth $20,000 to Stickney?); and claims the Declaration of Independence (not, um, the Constitution) mandates that the “express job of government [is] to protect all innocent human life.” (Meanwhile, Koster say he opposes the health care reform bill because health care is a free market concern not one for “government bureaucracy?”)
If Palin’s endorsement and Stickney’s presence aren’t dealbreakers for PubliCola readers (and they should be), here’s one that's a dealbreaker for PubliCola's writers: Anti-transit Bellevue Mall developer Kemper Freeman is also on Koster’s list of endorsers.
Incumbent Democrat Rick Larsen is a moderate who leans left, getting high marks from pro-choice groups and the ACLU. Indeed, despite hailing from a swing district, the Northwest corner of the state—Larsen has managed to go all in on key Democratic agenda items: yea on the employee nondiscrimination act, Wall Street reform, health care reform , and cap and trade. And despite his hawkish side, he voted to repeal the Patriot Act.
He’s also a go-to-vote on campaign finance reform and transportation infrastructure.