This encrusted career senator is starting to sweat as midterms approach

With Republican challenger Tiffany Smiley gaining momentum in the senator's race in Washington state, U.S. senator Patty Murray, a Democrat, is feeling the heat.

This past week, Murray, a five-term senator, cast herself as a climate change warrior, even as wildfires — apparently caused by human error — have been raging for nearly six weeks, ranking Seattle the worst city worldwide for air quality.

"For the second day in a row, Seattle has some of the worst air quality in the world.  The air outside isn't safe — especially for our kids.  Let me be absolutely clear: climate change is a crisis that is hurting all of us," Murray lamented on Twitter recently.

"I'm proud to have helped pass the most significant climate action in history," Murray boasted in the short thread.  "Extreme national Republicans would undo the critical steps we've taken to fight climate change today and for our kids and grandkids.  This November, climate is on the ballot."

Critics on social media are calling out Murray's latest fear tactics.

"The smoke is from FIRES because your party failed to maintain our forests, opined," @CarrieMyHart. "You have FAILED in every way possible! High food and gas prices, crime, baby formula, homeless .... druggies all over every town here! VOTE @SmileyForWA."

"Shame on you for exploiting this rare special weather condition," tweeted J. Bobinksi.  "The fire causing this smoke started on Sept 2nd & was 2 acres in size at the time.  Why didn't YOU take charge, have it put out & prevent this, Patty? 1.5 months later & it's horrible! It's on YOU!"

Despite Murray's attempts to sow fear, in reality:

There are some folks and local newspapers that suggest that this smoke event is portent of the future, a symptom of global warming. Good science suggests otherwise, noted University of Washington Atmospheric Sciences professor Cliff Mass on his wildly popular "Weather Blog."

"Question: If the Loch Katine fire started on Sept 2, and was only 2 acres a week ago [on October 5] why was it not put out?" Mass inquired on his blog on October 19.  "Without this fire, the smoke in Puget Sound would have been MUCH less," he emphasized.

A career politician, Murray, it seems, is interested only in exploiting the wildfires for political gain — not solving them.  In fact, she cannot afford to let a good crisis go to waste with Smiley gaining momentum.

According to a new poll, by The Seattle Times and others, Smiley, a former triage nurse and veteran's advocate, is closing the gap with a 50% to 34% percent lead among independent voters.

Meanwhile, with just two weeks ahead of the midterm elections, Murray has reason to be afraid, as Smiley is delivering a message of hope to all Washingtonians.

"The goal of Tiffany's agenda for recovery and reform is simple: to turn crisis into hope for all Washingtonians," reads her website.

"From skyrocketing inflation to an oncoming recession, our economy is going in the wrong direction. Economic recovery means putting more in the pocketbooks of middle-class workers and families. Economic reform means enacting commonsense ideas that will take advantage of Washington's strengths in the global competition for jobs and investment," noted Smiley in a press release.

A mother to three young boys, Smiley never expected to run for political office.  That changed when she challenged the Washington bureaucracy and won important reforms for her husband and other veterans with disabilities, according to her campaign website.

"I saw the power of building coalitions and bringing people together for a singular cause and improving others' lives," Smiley said in an interview recently.

To date, her husband, who lost his sight from a suicide bomber in Iraq in 2005, has never seen their children.

Beyond a resonant personal story and a unifying campaign message, Smiley outraised Murray nearly two to one in third-quarter contributions, according to the latest Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings.

In a press release earlier this month, Smiley announced that her campaign raised $6 million during the third quarter of 2022, with $2.5 million cash on hand.  "This new benchmark brings the campaign to more than 60,000 individual contributions," she added.

To date, the five-term incumbent has declined to debate Smiley. 

"Murray refuses to join me on the debate stage prior to ballots being mailed to voters," noted Smiley.  "It's a slap in the face to all voters and shows she wants Washingtonians to vote first and get debates later."

Of note: Voting in Washington state is only by VBM, or vote-by-mail.

Their first debate is set for Sunday, October 23 at Gonzaga University in Spokane — now that ballots have been mailed out, with some already filled out and returned.

Elizabeth Economou writes from Seattle.

Image: Senate Democrats via Flickr, CC BY 2.0 (cropped).

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