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Congress: Larsen, Bart are top vote-getters

Congressman leads 87,353 votes to former sheriff’s 59,853; both move on to general election

Come November, islanders will have a congressman named Rick. But which Rick ... well, we’ll have to wait until the Nov. 4 election to find out.

Republican Rick Bart and Democrat Rick Larsen were the two top vote-getters in the state’s first-ever Top 2 primary tonight, advancing to the general election. Under the Top 2 system, the top two vote-getters regardless of party advance to the general election.

Members of the House of Representatives serve two-year terms. Come January, the annual salary will be $174,000.

As of Saturday at 3:22 p.m., Larsen, who has represented the Second Congressional District since 2001, had 87,353 votes districtwide. Bart, the former Snohomish County sheriff, had 59,853 votes.

Doug Schaffer, an independent and management consultant, was third with 7,770. Glen Johnson, a Democrat and Skagit Valley farmer, was fourth with 4,835.

Bart served three terms as Snohomish County sheriff. He was born in Sedro-Woolley and graduated from Seattle University and the FBI National Academy. He served in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War. He served on the executive committee of the National Sheriffs Association, the Washington Association of County Officials, and Family and Friends of Victims of Violent Crime.

It was with the sheriff’s association, he said, that he learned how sluggish Congress can be; he frequently lobbied on western issues. But his strongest views developed as a father and grandfather.

In an earlier interview, Bart wouldn’t call America’s war in Iraq a mistake. But he did say that war should always be “the absolute last resort.” And he said Congress must support the troops “so they can get the job done.”

Regarding U.S. energy policy, he believes the U.S. must “move aggressively” toward energy independence, and he supports coal shale and nuclear power as alternative sources. “We have the biggest supply of coal shale in the world,” he said. He said France derives 80 percent of its energy from nuclear power, and that Americans need “an open dialogue” on nuclear power. He also supports oil drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, saying that drilling would occur on 1 million acres out of a 22 million acre reserve.

Regarding federal debt, Bart believes bipartisan work on preserving Social Security and Medicare is a necessity. He also supports a one-year moratorium on earmarks, a specified amount of money directed to a organization or project in a Congress member’s home state or district.

Larsen is seeking his fifth term. This term, he won passage of the Wild Sky Wilderness Act, which protects 106,000 acres of wild lands in the heart of the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. Wild Sky is the first designated wilderness in Washington state in more than 20 years.

He pushed to get the Veterans Administration to build an outpatient clinic for veterans in San Juan, Skagit and Whatcom counties, and the VA is also conducting monthly clinics at Inter Island Medical Center. He has sponsored legislation to prevent and treat meth addiction.

He is an advocate of investing in America’s infrastructure and changing America’s energy policy. On that end, he voted for the release of 10 percent of America’s oil reserves to help meet demand and ease oil prices. He believes we need to switch to alternative energy sources and says oil companies should lose the domestic oil leases that they are not using.

In response to a question during a candidates forum in Friday Harbor, Larsen said he believes the U.S. has unfinished work in Afghanistan.

“We need to be in Afghanistan,” Larsen said, adding that the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks took root there. He said the Taliban’s influence is growing along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Peace in Afghanistan will require cooperation from NATO and giving the Afghanistan government what it needs so that it can govern.

Larsen said he supports testing for accountability but that progress must be tracked per student, not per school. He said No Child Left Behind must be fully funded; he said 74 percent of the program is funded.

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