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Congressman Larsen gets two challenges from within party | Election 2010

Two Democrats have entered the 2nd Congressional District race against fellow Democrat Rick Larsen, the incumbent. From top, Larry Kalb, president of Health Care for All, a statewide organization advocating single-payer health care; and Diana McGinness, a retired insurance fraud investigator. Republican John Koster, a Snohomish County Council member who ran for Congress in 2000, is also a candidate.  - Contributed photos
Two Democrats have entered the 2nd Congressional District race against fellow Democrat Rick Larsen, the incumbent. From top, Larry Kalb, president of Health Care for All, a statewide organization advocating single-payer health care; and Diana McGinness, a retired insurance fraud investigator. Republican John Koster, a Snohomish County Council member who ran for Congress in 2000, is also a candidate.
— image credit: Contributed photos

Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Bellingham, will have a challenge in the primary from within his own party.

Larry Kalb, 55, announced his candidacy Jan. 15 for the 2nd Congressional District seat, to which Larsen was elected in 2000.

Kalb lives in Bellingham, works for the Whatcom Transportation Authority finance department, and is president of Health Care for All, a statewide organization advocating single-payer health care.

And Diana McGinness of Bellingham, a retired insurance fraud investigator, announced her candidacy Jan. 20.

On Jan. 13, Snohomish County Councilman John Koster, a former state representative who ran against Larsen in 2000, announced his candidacy. Koster is a Republican. He was featured in The Journal on Jan. 20.

Under Washington law, the top two vote-getters in the Aug. 17 primary — regardless of party — advance to the Nov. 2 general election.

Larry Kalb
Kalb is a former chairman of the Washington State Progressive Caucus and was twice a delegate to the Democratic National Convention. He is a former board member of the Whatcom County chapter of Washington Conservation Voters.

Kalb will have some help in San Juan County, which gave Larsen 72.44 percent of its vote in the 2008 general election.

“I’ve known Larry since 2004,” said Sharon Abreu of Eastsound. “I’m impressed by his values and integrity and so I’m helping him with his campaign, working with Rebecca Hellman on Lopez to help people in the San Juans get to know Larry.”

In a press release announcing his campaign, Kalb said he disagrees with Larsen on health care reform as proposed, and on expenditures for war.

Regarding health care reform, Kalb said, “The pending health insurance legislation, which lobbyists authored, represents the largest shifting of citizens’ money to corporate interests in the history of this nation.

“The people of my district want to get Wall Street medicine out of their doctor’s office, but instead my congressman pledged his allegiance to the insurance companies by giving them a profit windfall worth hundreds of billions of dollars on the backs of us taxpayers and that’s wrong.

“My motto is ‘Equal access, equal care — regardless of our station in life.’ I believe our money should go to getting more health care services, not making middlemen richer.”

Kalb lived in Europe for 11 years before moving to Bellingham. In Europe, he said he experienced first-hand the economic benefits of universal access to health care.

“A whole layer of our economy is missing in comparison,” Kalb said. “Other nations depend on the intellectual initiative of a healthy citizenry to create domestic economic expansion, but with our health care system it retracts. And politicians always talk about creating more jobs. That can’t happen under our system of profit-based medicine.”

Kalb also differs with the incumbent over war expenditures.

“We could use the $160 billion my congressman slated for more war in Afghanistan to stimulate job growth or to build a light-rail system from Blaine to Seattle. Our roads are already congested and the erosion of transportation improvement funds promises to make our air quality worse, causing more kids to be treated for asthma.

“A good steward of public funds would provide child care programs for young working moms and dads who struggle to set-up a household, or enable cash-strapped high school graduates the financial means to study a skill or profession of their choice, or even help those families facing foreclosure to keep their house.”

His No. 1 goal if elected: Campaign finance reform legislation.

“This is our home. We have a right to just governance,” he said.

You can talk to the candidate by calling (360) 927-2729. His Web site address is www.kalbforcongress.com.

Diana McGinness
In her declaration of candidacy, McGinness said Congress needs representatives that are willing and able to address the serious problems facing Americans.

“We need leaders willing to step up to enact solutions for 97 percent of the people, not politicians who test the wind before speaking out or casting a vote.” She said she is committed to work for “real reform, rather than reinforcing the status quo.”

“For 50 years, politicians have run for office with simplistic slogans,” McGinness said. “It’s time to stop governing and electing by ‘bumper sticker.’ Our problems are greater than two or three issues and much more complicated than a slogan.”

As targets for reform, she cited banking regulation, campaign laws, corporate monopolies, education, health care, international trade, ongoing wars and “jobs, jobs, jobs.”

McGinness retired in 2007 as an insurance fraud investigator. She was recognized by state officials as the driving force behind the creation of a state bill that formed a dedicated criminal fraud investigative unit in the Insurance Commissioner’s office.

Her career focused on investigating and uncovering fraud, including staged-accident and theft rings, medical offices billing for services not rendered, and improper billing by diagnostic and durable medical equipment firms.

Prior to her retirement, McGinness’ interest turned toward politics. She said her work honed her research skills, and enabled her to define and research issues effecting our economy and civil rights.

“Whether we look back 50 years or five days, history will show us lessons we’ve forgotten and reveal solutions,” McGinness said.

“We must educate voters so we can work together for what’s best for our communities and our country. We have the will to restore our prosperity and protect our freedoms; now we must do it.”

McGinness moved to Washington from southern Illinois in 1991. She has a daughter and two sons, one a former Marine who served in the Gulf War. Her home is in Bellingham.

Her Web site address is www.dianaforcongress.com.

The Candidates
— Larry Kalb: Democrat. President of Health Care for All. Former chairman of Washington State Progressive Caucus.
— John Koster: Republican. Snohomish County Council member. Ran for Congress in 2000.
— Rick Larsen: Democrat. Member of Congress since 2001. Member of the House Armed Services Committee, House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and the House Budget Committee.
— Diana McGinness: Democrat. Retired insurance fraud investigator.

Earlier stories: Snohomish County Council member challenging Larsen for Congress.

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