Oct 21, 2022 - Politics

Sen. Murray and challenger Smiley clash over abortion and climate

Photo illustration of Patty Murray, tinted blue, and Tiffany Smiley, tinted red, separated by a white halftone divider.

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (left) and challenger Tiffany Smiley. Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photos: Bill Clark, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

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.

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.

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.

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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