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State Senator Craig Pridemore, D-Vancouver, and candidate in WA-03, today issued his strongest statement yet in support of moving ahead with health care reform, imperfect as it is. Pridemore is running for the seat being vacated at the end of the year by retiring Rep. Brian Baird, D-Wash., who voted against reform in December. Baird still won't say how he will vote this time.

In a campaign video, Pridemore makes the argument that Americans can't afford to wait any more, and that his chief primary opponent, Denny Heck, is "standing on the sidelines."

(Note: I don't have a transcript of the video, but at the end of this diary I've posted a news release that contains many of the same points.)

To say the least, Denny Heck has been endlessly wishy-washy on the topic. Just last Friday he was featured in The Hill, in an article purporting to show how Democratic candidates are afraid to take a stand:

Former Washington state Rep. Denny Heck, the Democratic front-runner to replace retiring Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wash.), would only lay out a series of policy goals and declined to delve into the details of the Senate bill.

He echoed a line frequently used by the candidates — that something must be done.

“I have to say that I’m encouraged by the seriousness with which I sense this thing is all being taken of late,” Heck said. “[Health and Human Services] Secretary [Kathleen] Sebelius was beating the doing-nothing-is-not-an-option drum. I think that’s the right message.”

So for those unfamiliar with WA-03, it covers SW Washington from Olympia to Vancouver, from the coast to the Cascades. The population center, with roughly 50% of the vote, is in Clark County, across the Columbia River from Portland, Or. Cook has WA-03 PVI at an even zero.

Pridemore was a county commissioner in Clark County before he was a state senator. He beat a well-financed incumbent Republican county commissioner in 1998 to earn that seat, and went on to beat an equally well-financed GOP state senator in 2004. He's a proven winner, and a real progressive, having fought for more fairness in our regressive state sales tax system and also for ecological protections. He has good name ID in Clark County.

Heck is a former state legislator from Clark County, who retired from the state House in 1985 to become its Clerk. He lost a 1988 race for Superintendent of Public Instruction and hasn't run for office since then. He served as chief of staff for Gov. Booth Gardner, a Democrat, in the early 1990's and helped found TVW, our state version of C-SPAN. He seems to have made his fortune with a Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) firm called Intrepid Learning Solutions, and has donated (for starters) $100,000 to his own campaign. While these are all impressive achievements, he hasn't been in the trenches fighting like Craig, and about 300,000 people have moved to Clark County since Heck left, so his name ID with the general public probably isn't that high.

This race is shaping up as a true battle for the soul of the party. Heck has gone around and gotten his share of endorsements from established political figures, including the incumbent, Baird. Pridemore, meanwhile, has been busy in Olympia with a special session to deal with budget shortfalls, but has recently secured a couple of nice labor endorsements.

The fact that Heck won't even take a stand on the most important issue of the day kind of reveals what kind of politician he is: much like his pal Baird. And that's about the last thing we need around here, another Brian Baird. Many of you may recall a political disaster or two Baird brought upon us.

Predictably, some establishment Democrats wander around saying the word "moderate" over and over in support of Heck, as if all one has to do is triangulate between artificially simplified ideological positions and, presto, you have a winner. And I suppose in an ordinary year that might hold some water. But this election is not so much left versus right as it is big versus little, insider versus outsider. You already know all the arguments about financial reform, jobs, the simulus, the banksters and so on. Suffice it to say that I'd rather have someone proven to fight for regular people represent me.

I've known Craig since, ironically enough, Baird's first campaign for Congress in 1996. Through thick and thin, Craig has remained true to his principles, while winning election after election. I humbly ask the Daily Kos community to take a look at Craig, if you haven't already, and see if you like what you hear. If you do like him, this race is going to take lots of us little people doing what we can. Here's Craig's page at Act Blue.

Thanks for reading.

Here is the news release, as promised:

Craig Pridemore, candidate for Washington’s 3rd Congressional seat, today released a video declaring his support for health care reforms that inject competition and checks on the insurance and pharmaceutical companies influencing policy decisions in Washington, D.C.

“As I’ve traveled around Washington’s 3rd Congressional District, one of the things that’s clear is that our citizens and our businesses are hurting,” Pridemore said.  “We need to step up and help our small businesses and workers succeed by implementing reforms to reduce their health care costs.  The problem right now is that we have a health care system dominated by insurance and pharmaceutical companies and Wall Street.”

“I believe we deserve a public option.  It is essential that we encourage competition in the health care market place, and the only way to do that is to hold the special interests in Washington, D.C. accountable to the struggling families across our nation,” Pridemore continued.  “I also know that the bill before us means progress.  It will provide coverage to millions of uninsured Americans and end the inhumane practice of cutting off those with pre-existing conditions.”

“What’s clear is that my opponent, Denny Heck, is standing on the sidelines when it comes to this issue.  He wants to wait it out, see what happens, and then decide where he stands.  Make no mistake, I support health care reform and I support a public option and when elected, will step up and do everything I can to lower costs and check the power of the special interests in Washington, D.C.”

Originally posted to stilwell on Wed Mar 17, 2010 at 01:39 PM PDT.

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