Democratic hopefuls Maria Cantwell, Derek Kilmer tour Port Angeles, Port Townsend
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Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News
U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell speaks at a campaign rally Tuesday as state Sen. Derek Kilmer, who is seeking to replace Rep. Norm Dicks, looks on.

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — One week before Tuesday's general election, the Democratic Party hosted a bus tour of towns including Port Townsend and Port Angeles that featured a sitting U.S. senator and a congressional hopeful.

“This is all about jobs,” said Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Mountlake Terrace, during a rally at the Dream City Cafe just south of Port Townsend on Tuesday morning.

“We need to continue the steps that will continue to grow our economy.

“We are at a turning point with the aerospace industry, which will need thousands of jobs over the next few years, and if we don't train and skill workers in preparation for those jobs, we will lose them to other countries,” Cantwell said.

Jobs, economy

About 150 people squeezed into the small restaurant to hear Cantwell and state Sen. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor — who seeks to replace longtime 6th Congressional District Rep. Norm Dicks — speak about jobs and the economy.

Cantwell is opposed in her bid for a third six-year term by state Sen. Michael Baumgartner, 36, a Republican from Spokane.

Kilmer is opposed by Bill Driscoll, 50, a Gulf War veteran and Tacoma businessman.

The Port Townsend stop was preceded by a rally at the Clallam County Democratic headquarters in Port Angeles that was attended by more than 135 people, according to Kilmer staffer Matthew Randazzo, who is on a leave of absence as chairman of the county Democratic Party.

After leaving Port Townsend, the bus traveled to a larger rally in Bremerton that added U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee and Dicks, who endorsed Kilmer after he announced he is retiring after 18 terms in office.

Inslee is opposed by Republican Rob McKenna, 50, who is finishing his second term as state attorney general.

Cantwell, 54, was first elected to the Senate in 2000.

Kilmer, 38, was elected as a state representative in 2004 and a senator in 2006, and is in his second term in the Senate.

While each candidate asked for support of their own campaigns, they touted the accomplishments of the others.

“Maria Cantwell gets it. She makes sure that we are taking care of the needs of the small businesses on Main Street while holding accountable those on Wall Street,” Kilmer said.

“She is fighting for clean energy because it is how we keep costs down, and she recognizes that we don't have to choose between jobs and the environment.

“She knows that we can still grow jobs while we protect the planet.”

'A new world'

Said Cantwell: “John F. Kennedy said that it was time for new leadership and a new world to be won.

“I believe that he was somehow talking about Derek Kilmer, who has an understanding in his DNA about how hard the economy on the Olympic Peninsula has been.”

As this was a political rally, every story led to a call to action: to vote for Democrats and get out the vote.

Cantwell noted that Port Townsend had a “lot of famous people,” citing astronaut John Fabian and mountaineer Jim Whittaker, who were both in attendance.

“We have an astronaut here and someone who has been at the highest point in the world, and now we need to put Derek Kilmer on the summit of the Peninsula and send him to Congress,” she said.

Said Kilmer: “I've heard time after time how people don't want our top export to be our kids.

“This goes beyond providing tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. It means fighting for small businesses and making sure they have the capital to grow jobs in the United States of America again,” he said.

“It's time that we provide for young people, which is why I am running and why I do what I do, working in the economic development field,” Kilmer said.

After the rally, Cantwell expressed hope that the next Congress and a second term with Barack Obama as president would be more productive, but she said she would work with Mitt Romney if he is elected president.

“We shouldn't have to fight so hard for the programs that help us to pay down the deficit,” she said.

“I hope we can keep control of the Senate as a repudiation that they have gone too far to the right and they are trying to be obstructionists.

“I don't think that compromise is a bad word, and I will work with whoever is there.”

She said Initiative 502, which would legalize marijuana in Washington state, was flawed with regard to its medical use but said if the measure passes, she would work to resolve conflicts between state and federal law.

“If the initiative passes, I will support it and will work out legislation to smooth out any differences,” she said.

“I will make every effort to support the state's interest in D.C.”

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Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at charlie.bermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: October 30. 2012 7:25PM
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