Republican Susan Hutchison, who will challenge Democrat Sen. Maria Cantwell for her seat in November, believes President Trump has the nation on the right track and she could serve as the voice of economic growth in the region.
Trump’s election in 2016 “was a moment to recognize an entire group of Americans who didn’t feel like they had a voice. Donald Trump gave them a voice,” she said at a stop at The Daily World Tuesday. “The regular working class finally has a voice.”
Hutchison, who headed the state’s Republican party for five years and is an Emmy-winning TV journalist who anchored the KIRO-7 evening news for 20 years, said she firmly believes, if the nation continues on its current economic path, Trump will be re-elected in 2020.
“We are in an amazing era of prosperity and if it continues through 2020 he will be re-elected,” she said.
Hutchison believes the tax breaks passed by the current administration have directly impacted the current economic upturn, and said her opponent voted against those tax breaks that, in Hutchison’s words, “led to the boom” in the economy and declining unemployment rates, which she said not only benefit communities economically, but socially.
“Jobs give people dignity, and dignity gives people hope,” she said.
A few weeks ago Hutchison posted a video on her Facebook page, saying mismanagement of forests was to blame for the recent rash of wildfires that filled Western Washington with smoke in August, not global warming. The video got a great deal of play, so far with more than 200,000 views, and spurred a wide range of responses, on social media and other outlets. Does that mean climate change had no role?
“I believe the climate is always changing,” she said. “The solution to climate change has to be a worldwide effort.”
She said she believes in science-based, not political, solutions to issues regarding pollution and climate change.
“Let’s not make it a political football,” said Hutchison. “The solution needs to be free of politics. We could be a leader in this.”
When it comes to offshore oil drilling, Hutchison said she believes there are other options that could reduce the reliance on imported fossil fuels while maintaining a healthy environment.
“I think it’s all about risk versus benefit,” she said. Because of what she sees is an abundance of other natural energy resources, particularly natural gas, “I don’t see offshore drilling as the answer. If we were to weigh the risks versus the benefits I’d say there’s a better way.”
Hutchison said she comes from an environmentally-conscious family.
“My mom was an environmentalist before there was ever such a thing,” she said. She recalls while living in Florida her mom leaving home to protest a proposed airport in the Everglades; her father was actually an Air Force pilot and West Point graduate. That environmental history continued as Hutchison took over the state Republican Party. Energy efficient light bulbs and recycling bins were incorporated into the party’s headquarters after she took the lead, she said.
Hutchison said she recognizes the gap between resources available for rural areas versus those that seem to come more easily to larger metropolitan areas. She said in Congress when most people think of Southwest Washington, they think of Vancouver, “again focusing on a city.” She believes by looking back in the nation’s history and learning from rural success stories, the fortunes of rural Washington and rural America in general could see an upturn.
“In the ’30s and ’40s there was a big push for rural electrification. We need a 21st Century version of that,” she said, pointing out the importance for infrastructure and economic stability in the regions outside of urban areas responsible for agriculture, timber harvest and other critical parts of the nation’s economy.
Hutchison said she believed her opponent, Cantwell, would not well serve areas like Aberdeen and Hoquiam, which Hutchison called “the heart of coastal communities.” She pointed out what she saw as an absence of Cantwell from the campaign trail.
“Cantwell will not be campaigning here, except maybe for a photo opp with a tree,” she said, adding she felt “Cantwell is bored with her job” and is not willing to cultivate the grassroots relationships across the district she said she’s willing to do.
Hutchison claimed a mixture of representation from both sides of the political spectrum makes for a healthy democracy.
“The goal is to elect good Republicans to work with good Democrats,” she said. “When we have only two senators and a Legislature split down the middle it’s time for there to be a Republican in D.C.”