Maria Cantwell is the clear choice for the U.S. Senate in the November election.

The three-term Democrat has represented Washington state and the Pacific Northwest region well in Congress.

Cantwell’s challenger, Susan Hutchison, is simply not prepared for the job. Her stands seem mostly rooted in partisan rhetoric. She follows the script coming from the White House.

Hutchison is a true believer in the conservative politics she espouses, and this served her well as the chairwoman of the state Republican Party. She deserves credit for bringing the state party together. And, frankly, she deserves praise for agreeing to challenge Cantwell.

It’s good for democracy when incumbents are challenged.

Cantwell is an established and seasoned leader and politician. She has a depth and breadth of knowledge and experience few can match.

It was disappointing that Cantwell did not embrace Hutchison’s invitations to debate across the state.

Nevertheless, Cantwell and Hutchison did debate earlier this month near Tacoma, and Cantwell demonstrated her grasp of the issues. The pair will debate again on Oct. 20 in Spokane.

At the Tacoma debate, according to that area’s newspaper, The News Tribune, Cantwell was critical of President Trump’s tariffs on foreign goods. She noted that Washington is the U.S. state most dependent on international trade. Cantwell said cherry growers lost tens of millions of dollars when their access the Chinese market was reduced.  

But Hutchison contended at the debate that tariffs are a necessary short-term cost to bear for cherry farmers’ long-term economic health.

Hutchison, in our interview with her as well as in many of her statements, appears to be in unquestioning lock step with Trump. That might appeal to some voters.

We, however, believe it is essential for members of Congress, in both political parties, to challenge the president on policies that aren’t productive. Thrusting America into a trade war is one such policy.

Cantwell has the pulse of every corner of the state, including Southeast Washington.

She pushed legislation securing funding for the control tower at the Walla Walla Regional Airport. Cantwell, along with Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers R-Wash., has been a pit bull when it comes to ensuring the health of Walla Walla’s Jonathan M. Wainwright VA Medical Center.   

In addition, Cantwell helped secure increased funding for fighting forest fires and protecting our forests. After the haze and lousy air in this Valley over the past two summers, it is clear this is a critical issue.

Cantwell has done a solid job representing the state in the U.S. Senate for the past three terms. She has earned a fourth. 

Editorials are the opinion of the Union-Bulletin's Editorial Board. The board is composed of Brian Hunt, Rick Eskil, James Blethen and Alasdair Stewart

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