Though it will be the first time in history that Washington voters will choose between two Republicans on the November ballot, it’s difficult to find similarities between Clint Didier and Dan Newhouse.
The two disagree on just about every issue facing the federal government as they vie for the 4th District seat being vacated by Doc Hastings at the end of the year.
The central-Washington Congressional district stretches from the Oregon to the Canadian border and includes Grant, Douglas and Okanogan counties. But it no longer includes Chelan County, which is now in the 8th Congressional district.
Didier was the top vote-getter in the primary election. Since then, Newhouse has garnered more compaign contributions and won endorsements from Hastings, the Washington Farm Bureau and the National Rifle Association.
Newhouse, 59, a Yakima farmer who served as a state legislator and as agriculture director under Gov. Chris Gregoire, describes himself as a conservative Republican who can work cooperatively with Democrats to get work done.
Didier, 55, a Pasco rancher and former National Football League player, is a tea-party conservative who has pledge not to support anything that creates new taxes, increases existing taxes and fees, or grows government in any way.
Here’s now the two come down on a range of issues they would face in Congress:
Newhouse: Congress needs to adopt immigration reform that includes offering temporary work visas to people from other countries and tracks recipients while they are here. “Agriculture is a multi-billion-dollar industry in Central Washington and we rely heavily on a workforce that is very questionable in their legality. We need a system where we no longer have a segment of the population that is living in the shadows.
Didier: The federal government needs to step out of the way and let private business create a system for issuing work visas to people crossing the borders. The system would include withholding one-quarter of the guest workers’ salaries until they return home to give them incentive to leave when their jobs are completed. Didier also supports using the military to secure the borders from illegal immigration.
Newhouse: Federal government should be required to adopt a balanced budget.
Didier: Says he will propose an across-the-board 10 percent cut in all federal government spending his first year if elected. He would also like to reduce the number of federal agencies and phase out government involvement in health care, social security, environmental protection and other services.
Affordable Health Care Act
Newhouse: Does not support the act, but does think government must establish the rules and regulations by which health care is provided to citizens. “The government should not be mandating insurance policies and the kind of care someone should receive and the doctors they can see. That is overreach by the federal government.
Didier: Government should not be involved in health care at all. Instead, people should have the freedom to choose insurance carriers and medical providers. Competition among providers will reign in costs.
Newhouse: Federal government needs to take a lead role in expanding the Columbia Basin Project, build new water storage in the Yakima River basin and other projects to increase the vital water supply for agriculture, industry and communities.
Didier: The federal government should have no control over water supply in Washington state.
Newhouse: Should remain a government program but needs to be improved.
Didier: Should eventually be phased out (once everyone who has already paid into receives their share) and workers should eventually be able to choose how they invest in their own retirement.
Newhouse: Should remain a government agency in order to offer medical and other care for veterans.
Didier: The government program should be drastically downsized and the savings used to provide vouchers to veterans who would be able to seek private medical care of their own choosing.
Perhaps the biggest difference between the two candidates, though, is their approach to government in general.
Didier believes government is out of control. It’s grown from 100 agencies in the 1960s to more than 1,300 today. He said he would align himself with Liberty Caucus members in the House to put forth their shared ideas of reducing government.
“As this caucus grows and we have more and more of the power, then we’ll be able to bring about some much-needed change,” he said. “That is what’s scaring the establishment of the Republican Party.”
Newhouse said he’s worked hard in his public service to find ways to work with everyone.
“Even though I am a conservative Republican, I can work with people who are not,” he said. “You can negotiate, you can find common ground with people you don’t agree with and still maintain your core principals.”
As to why he thinks he’s the most qualified for the job, Didier said, “I’m an American. I’m a farmer. I know what common sense is. ... I believe in the American Dream because I lived it and I want every generation to come to have their shot at it. And we do that by getting back to a limited government.”
As for his experience, Newhouse pointed out his four years in the Washington State legislature and his ability to work with Democrats.
“I will not apologize for having that experience and I think it will serve the people of the 4th District very well,” he said. “I think it gives me a unique experience and knowledge of the issues and how to present people.”
Michelle McNiel: 664-7152