Sen. Murray and challenger Smiley clash over abortion and climate
U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Washington) has been in office for 30 years, and her Republican challenger Tiffany Smiley says that's too long.
State of play: Although Washington voters have reliably elected Democrats in statewide elections in recent years, the nonpartisan Cook Political Report this week shifted its rating of the state's Senate race from "solid Democratic" to "likely Democratic," indicating a slightly more competitive contest.
- That, combined with Smiley's improving poll numbers and a recent influx of money to her campaign, could signal Murray is more vulnerable than once thought.
Zoom in: Abortion has been a major flashpoint in the race between Murray and Smiley, a former triage nurse and veterans' advocate who has never held elected office.
- Murray's campaign has criticized Smiley's past anti-abortion comments, including her support of Texas' restrictive abortion ban, as being out of step with Washington voters.
- Smiley, meanwhile, has run campaign ads lambasting Murray for not doing enough to combat crime in Seattle, while alleging Murray has little to show for her 30 years in the Senate.
Here are some of the biggest points of contrast that have arisen between the candidates on the campaign trail.
On government spending: Smiley has criticized Murray's support of President Biden's Inflation Reduction Act, which Smiley predicts will increase natural gas costs because it imposes a new fee on methane emissions.
- Murray, meanwhile, has praised the Inflation Reduction Act as a necessary investment to fight climate change.
On student loan relief: Smiley wants to ban the federal government from forgiving student loans, while Murray has supported Biden's debt-forgiveness plan.
On abortion: Murray has said that reinstating the protections of Roe v. Wade will be "the first thing we do" in Congress if voters elect more pro-choice Democrats this fall.
- But, in a written statement Tuesday, Smiley said the president's focus on abortion shows he has misplaced priorities.
- "Our economy is sliding into recession, deadly narcotics are pouring through our southern border, crime has a chokehold on our communities — but President Biden's top legislative priority tackles none of these crises," Smiley said.
On the 2020 election: Murray's campaign has slammed Smiley for deleting a section of her campaign website that previously questioned the integrity of the 2020 elections.
- In an email to Axios, a spokesperson for Smiley's campaign said she believes "that Joe Biden is our duly elected president," but "acknowledges that there are many who have concerns surrounding the 2020 election."
- Murray's campaign accused Smiley of "scrambling to hide her extreme views after the primary."
What's next: Murray and Smiley will debate Sunday at Gonzaga University in Spokane. You can stream the debate on TVW or through local news station KHQ.
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