Editorial: Larsen wins another term

Second District Congressman Rick Larsen, D-Arlington, worked hard to win a sixth term and in the end barely pulled it off, beating Republican challenger John Koster, R-Arlington, by a narrow margin.

Koster was a reputable challenger with a solid, conservative background, but appeared uncomfortable at the speaker’s podium and was a bit short in the charisma category. And a barrage of anti-Koster TV adds, some paid for by Larsen and some by outside groups, didn’t help a bit. Still, Larsen was lucky to win in the anti-government, tea party-type atmosphere that has sprung up in the past two years.

Larsen’s biggest vulnerability was his vote for the bailout of Wall Street bankers, using billions of taxpayer dollars to do it. He is correct that the top “mainstream economists,” as he calls them, said the bailout was necessary to avoid another Great Depression. Then-President Bush thought the same, but we’ll never know for sure. What if the bailout hadn’t happened and the Wall Street giants were left to fend for themselves in bankruptcy court? It’s one of life’s disappointments that when we take one path we never know what would have happened on the other path. But Larsen made a decision and stuck to it even while talking to a group of skeptical business leaders in Oak Harbor last week. A second Great Depression hasn’t happened -- at least not yet -- and the re-elected Larsen now sees his top priority as “building an environment where businesses can create jobs and thrive.”

Larsen has always worked hard for his district, pushing to guarantee a bright future for Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, seeing that Ebey’s Reserve gets its share of federal dollars, and supporting Whidbey General Hospital’s needs for more federal dollars.

Looking around the island at the empty storefronts and glum expressions that dominate at business meetings, Larsen has a big job ahead of him. And he only has two years to start turning it around, otherwise a more formidable opponent will likely take him on in 2012.

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