Larsen to go up against Luke in U.S. House race
MOUNT VERNON — Incumbent Rick Larsen is facing off against Brian Luke for the U.S. House of Representatives seat in the state’s 2nd Congressional District.
The district encompasses parts of Whatcom, Skagit and Snohomish counties as well as all of Island and San Juan counties.
Larsen, a Democrat, was first elected to the seat in 2000.
“I think there is unfinished work still in the district and in Congress,” he said. “Things that would benefit Skagit County, and I want to continue working on those issues.”
Luke, a Libertarian, said he is running to give people another option. He also ran for the seat in 2016.
“I wanted something for the voters other than blue candidate and red candidate,” he said. “The two parties are failing us, they are bankrupting the country. The Libertarian party exists and we’re running candidates and we’re alive and well.”
Both candidates cited the economy as a top issue, although each had a different focus.
Luke said the national debt is a top issue and that Congress needs to work toward balancing a budget.
“I believe in fiscal responsibility,” he said. “I haven’t seen the fiscal responsibility in Congressman Larsen that I would like to see.”
If elected, Luke said in a Skagit Valley Herald questionnaire that he would look for opportunities to “cut domestic, foreign policy and military spending.”
Larsen said he would focus on workforce development, including training and apprenticeships.
“Workforce development will take a partnership between the community colleges and the high schools, employers and labor unions,” he said. “And there are things we need to do to change how we do workforce development.”
Improving infrastructure, Larsen said, would be another way to give a boost to the middle class by providing jobs.
One difference between the two candidates, Larsen said, is how they would approach President Donald Trump’s tax cut plan.
“We both would oppose the Trump tax cut, but for very different reasons,” Larsen said. “He focuses only on the debt, where I think the tax cut is targeted mainly at the richest Americans and the wealthiest corporations. If we get a chance to take a look at that tax cut again we ought to change it so it focuses more on the middle class.”
Luke, who has a master’s degree in international studies with a focus in Middle East studies from the University of Washington, said he would like to see the country take a different approach to foreign relations, especially in non-proliferation issues.
“The U.S. should not have such an interventionist policy,” he said. “I would love to see those soldiers we have abroad brought back here to the U.S. They would be spending their money here rather than in another country.”
Larsen has a different view on the country’s role in the world.
“America’s role in the world is extremely important,” Larsen said. “I think we’ve always been seen as a country that stands by our friends and allies, and my opponent would pull the U.S. out of those alliances. Those alliances aren’t just there to protect our allies, we have alliances to protect America. The United States’ presence in the world is not defined only by our military; it’s also defined by diplomatic presence, it’s defined by our cultural presence in the world.”
Larsen, who sits on the Armed Services Committee, said he has been a strong advocate of veterans issues, including helping Skagit County get a Veterans Affairs clinic, overhauling the VA system and working to increase the number of vouchers Skagit County can use to house homeless veterans.