Derek Kilmer, far right, incumbent 6th District congressman, and Todd Bloom, far left, his Nov. 8 general election opponent, chat with attendees of an election forum Wednesday night at the Clallam County courthouse. (Paul Gottlieb/Peninsula Daily News)

U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer and his challenger, Todd Bloom, differ on climate change, president at forum

The incumbent Democrat and his Republican opponent debated Clinton and Trump, as well as trade.

PORT ANGELES — Incumbent 6th Congressional District Congressman Derek Kilmer and his general election challenger, Republican Todd Bloom, had divergent views on climate change — as well as who should be president — recently at an election forum at the Clallam County courthouse.

But with ballots for the Nov. 8 election being mailed to voters on Oct. 19, Bloom’s support of GOP standard-bearer Donald Trump was more muted than Kilmer’s for Democrat Hillary Clinton.

The 6th Congressional District includes Clallam and Jefferson counties.

Kilmer, a democrat, Port Angeles native and Gig Harbor resident seeking his third term, was a superdelegate for Clinton at this summers’ Democratic National Convention and referred to Trump at the forum as “someone who might go off, unhinged.”

It is important, Kilmer told about 65 participants at the Clallam County League of Women Voters forum Wednesday, to have a president who is “measured and strategic and diplomatic.”

Bloom, a Tacoma certified public accountant in his first run for political office, said he will not endorse Trump.

“There are even odds that I may end up voting for him,” said Bloom, a Navy veteran who touted his extensive military experience.

“The only reason is, we really need someone who is not part of the special interests, entrenched interests.”

Kilmer met Bloom for the first time Wednesday as the two fielded a dozen questions from the audience.

Many focused on national and international issues such as the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement, also known as TPP, and a campaign-finance-related federal constitutional amendment that’s the focus of statewide advisory ballot I-735.

The amendment, a reaction to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, reserves free-speech rights to people and not corporations.

They also were asked about climate change and statewide carbon-tax Initiative 732.

Bloom said the climate had changed dramatically throughout the centuries and said scientific models on humans impact on the climate have not really improved.

He said America has been put at a disadvantage by international climate change agreements that undermine U.S. interests.

“My position would be we need to look at America first and not shoot ourselves in the foot,” Bloom said.

He said he is opposed to I-732, given the carbon output of other countries such as India and China.

Kilmer said the scientific community has reached “a consensus” that human activity does affect the climate.

“Climate change is real,” he said, citing rain forest fires in 2015 in Olympic National Park and coastal tribes having to move to higher ground.

He stopped short of outright support of I-732.

“A carbon tax is one method,” he said.

“There are other means to look at how to cost in the impact using market mechanisms.”

Attending the forum in force were opponents of TPP, a pact among 12 nations including the U.S. signed Feb. 4 that is awaiting ratification by Congress by 2018.

Bloom said he is against TPP and it would have a negative impact on jobs in Washington state.

“I’m for protection of our borders and the sovereignty of the U.S.,” he said.

Kilmer, taken to task for not taking a stand, has been meeting with other people on the topic “to make sure if and when it comes up for a vote, we make the right decision,” he said.

“Trade is gonna happen,” he said. “What I am not for is trade with no rules.”

Said one critic at the meeting: “We’re confident you’ve read it by now.”

Approval of I-735 would urge Washington state’s congressional delegation to propose a U.S. constitutional amendment on corporations in light of the Supreme Court ruling that campaign contributions to influence elections are a form of protected speech.

“I don’t think money is speech, and I don’t think corporations are people,” said Kilmer, co-sponsor of a House resolution for the kind of constitutional amendment called for in I-735.

“I find Rep. Kilmer’s remarks interesting,” Bloom responded, saying Kilmer has “far outraised and spent” anyone who has run against him for Congress, including Bloom.

“I’m just out there presenting myself as an alternative to the incumbent,” he said.

“Impinging on our First Amendment free speech rights — that’s not something I would be interested in doing.”

A video of the forum will be available at the League’s website at www.lwvcla.org.

The League will hold a forum on statewide initiatives from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday in the Carver Room of the Port Angeles Library, 2210 S. Peabody St.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].

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