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Candidates need to return government to the people

The University of Washington Student Newspaper Monday, April 8, 1996

Opinion

Candidates need to return government to the people William Lutz Daily Staff

Nita Rinehart, a State Senator and Democratic Gubernatorial candidate, will speak at a campus reception held tomorrow in honor of graduate students.Rinehart first announced her candidacy several months ago. She hoped to benefit from voters' anger at a governor who can't keep government out of people's lives and can't keep his hands to himself. Now that Mike Lowry's out of the race, Rinehart has to find a way to set herself apart from the other candidates. So she's decided to engage in pointless grandstanding - pitting herself against Lowry over petty differences in policy. Other candidates are following suit.Take a look at Rinehart on taxes, for example. In 1993, Rinehart, chair of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, helped pass one of the largest state tax increases Washington has ever seen. Three years later, she tried to atone for her actions by pruning back the increase slightly.The voters aren't stupid. Rinehart can't honestly claim to support cutting taxes and reducing the size and cost of government. Taxes are still much, much higher than they were in 1992.But let's be fair to the Senator, here. She's probably the most able of the Democratic candidates. Rinehart has always supported higher education and her record of service has won her bipartisan respect from colleagues and constituents alike.Of course, calling Rinehart the most able Democrat in the race isn't saying much. Her two main opponents, Seattle Mayor Norm Rice and King County Executive Gary Locke, have stooped to new lows in the grandstanding game.From a new stadium for the Mariners to housing levies and mass transit, Mayor Rice never met a tax he didn't like. That may play well over on Capitol Hill, but "tax and spend" doesn't cut the mustard in Wenatchee, Bellevue or Spokane.Locke, on the other hand, is running for governor on two issues: the Mariners and the Seahawks. When cameras are near, he just can't pass up the opportunity to take some potshots at the Behring family.Sadly, the Democrats don't have a monopoly on political posturing. Republican King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng has returned to an old G.O.P. standby - grandstanding on the crime issue. Besides all the free publicity over arsonist Martin Pang's trial, it seems as if Maleng schedules a news conference every time the Seattle Police Department gives out a jaywalking ticket.As if that wasn't bad enough, some conservative Republicans have begun a contest to see who can kill more people. Candidate Nona Brazier wants to make raping a virgin a death penalty offense. One problem - trying to prove a rape victim's virginity in court is easier said than done. The law would be meaningless because it could never be applied.Not to be outdone by Brazier, Republican candidate Ellen Craswell has proposed adding kidnapping to the list of capital crimes. At this rate, trespassing could soon become a capital crime.Fortunately, two candidates decided to shun nonsensical posturing and campaign on the issues. Dale Foreman and Pam Roach really will protect people's rights and reduce the size of government. Either one would make a great governor and both will campaign on principle.Enjoy your day on campus, Ms. Rinehart, but be forewarned. When voters get the choice between liberal impostors and real reformers, they'll toss out the "tax and spenders" and elect candidates who sincerely believe in returning government to the people.

Copyright © 1996 The Daily of the University of Washington

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