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Larsen launches campaign

U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen started his bid for re-election in Island County April 10 in Coupeville’s Rec Hall with lyrics from a Broadway show tune.

“In 2004, Island County will be my New York, New York,” Larsen told a group of Democrats. “If I can make it here, I can make it anywhere.”

Larsen (D-Arlington) has yet to carry Island County — the only part of the Second Congressional District that’s not strongly in his favor. The district includes the cities of Everett and Bellingham.

Larsen said his re-election campaign will be based on jobs, security, values and responsibility.

Larsen plans on working even more with communities in his district to improve and encourage economic development.

Larsen said he will be working on getting a transportation bill passed which keeps freight moving and will create 13,000 jobs across the nation. Along with an up-to-date transportation plan, Larsen said the country needs an energy policy that focuses on clean, renewable sources of energy.

“Our country has a Fred Flintstone energy policy,” Larsen said. “But we need a George Jetson policy for the 21st century.”

Larsen remains an avid supporter of the military.

“I’m taking the lead to protect NAS Whidbey Island as the country approaches a new round of base realignments and closures,” he said. The list of bases to be closed won’t be submitted until May 2005.

Because of that time lag, Larsen said 2004 will be a year of controlling base closure rumors.

“NAS Whidbey Island is in great shape,” Larsen said. “We have excellent training facilities and out of all the naval air stations in the nation, Whidbey Island has the most flying days every year.”

Larsen discussed his commitment to all branches of the military, paying homage and expressing appreciation for the men and women serving in the military including the 81st Brigade of Washington National Guard which recently deployed to Iraq.

“The successes we’ve had in Iraq are due to the ingenuity of the men and women in the military. Failures are a direct result of the lack of post-war planning for Iraq,” he said.

The U.S. pulling out of Iraq would create grave ramifications for the world, Larsen said, predicting “that would leave a training ground for terrorism.”

Larsen said presidents Roosevelt, Truman and Kennedy understood the need for internationalism when fighting wars and terrorism. He hopes to help bring internationalism to bear in Iraq and other world hot spots.

In the U.S., people equate national security with personal security, Larsen said. He will work on plans that increase the nation’s security without eroding personal rights and privacy. Larsen said Congress must ensure parts of the Patriot Act that “truly assist national security stay in place.” Those parts of the Patriot Act which “blow open the door to an individual’s right to privacy must be repealed,” Larsen said.

“Never again may Congress act so hastily when so much that has to do with privacy is at stake,” he said.

Larsen voted against the resolution that allowed President Bush to go to war against Iraq, but he voted in favor of the Patriot Act.

Other elements of Larsen’s campaign will be fiscal responsibility, veterans’ issues, drug problems and health care.

His comments brought applause from the Democratic constituents.

Larsen is running for his third two-year term. His only announced Republican challenger is Island County Auditor Suzanne Sinclair.

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