Election 2010: Larsen vs. Koster

Sep 21, 2010, 2:46 AM | Updated: Mar 28, 2011, 3:46 pm


Two boys grow up in Arlington, Washington. Many years later, in 2000, both decide to run for U.S. Congress. Rick Larsen won. John Koster went on to serve as a Snohomish County Councilmember.

A decade later, we get a rematch with Larsen and Koster wanting to represent our state’s 2nd Congressional District which stretches from Snohomish County, all the way to the border with Canada.

In this photo, Representative Larsen is on the left, Koster on the right. They’re both wearing blue shirts, and that’s almost the extent of their similarities. In this race, there isn’t a lot of common ground.

One thing the candidates agree on is that people in their district are most concerned about the economy and jobs. That’s not a surprise, it’s what voters across the state and country are talking about.

“When you look at the level of debt at $13.5 trillion and growing at $3.5 to $5 billion a day in this country, you have got to put everything on the table and take a hard look for efficiencies,” says Republican John Koster.

Efficiencies, meaning cuts. For example, Koster suggests getting rid of the whole Department of Education.

“What other purpose does the Department of Education serve, other than the distribution of funds back to the states,” he says. “Why not block grant that money back to the states and let the states best decide how to best get the kids educated.”

Democratic incumbent, Rick Larsen says he has worked over the years to control spending.

“The deficit this year will be less than last year,” he points out. “The deficit estimated next year, will be less than this year.” And Larsen says our country is making progress because the unemployment rate “has inched downward in my district, but I want to see it move by feet.”

Larsen says one of his greatest accomplishments in office was getting funding for an out-patient clinic for veterans in Mount Vernon. Veterans don’t need to drive all the way to Seattle for primary health care.

Koster says that’s not enough progress considering how long Larsen has been in office. Koster says voters are fed up with long-time incumbents.

Tea Party favorite Sarah Palin has endorsed Koster, what’s that doing for his campaign?

“I guess for some it’s a plus and for some it’s a minus,” he says. “It did help his campaign in terms of raising us up on the national scene.”

The 2nd Congressional District race might be the closest on the ballot in November. Koster beat Larsen in the Primary by about 300 votes. Larsen has raised almost twice as much money as Koster, but The Herald newspaper, which covers the 2nd District region, recently endorsed Koster.

The most recent poll on this race is from earlier this month. A September 3, 2010 KING 5/Survey USA poll found Koster was ahead of Larsen with likely voters, 50 percent to 46 percent. About four percent of voters were undecided. With younger voters, between the ages of 18 and 34, Koster is far ahead of Larsen, 59 percent to 37 percent. Larsen has more support with women, with about 50 percent of female voters saying they’re likely to vote for him, and 46 percent saying Koster was their choice.

Related Election 2010 reports:

It’s anybody’s 3rd District – Heck vs. Herrera

Washington’s 8th – Reichert vs. DelBene

Who should run Washington’s booze biz – Initiatives 1100 and 1105

The Tea Party’s impact on the midterm election

Clint Didier’s letter to all Republicans

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Election 2010: Larsen vs. Koster