Monday, July 11, 2016

Benton-Franklin League of Women Voters Candidate Forum for WA 4th Congressional District

Recap of League of Women Voters (LWV) Candidate Forum
2016 WA 4th Congressional District

Candidates in attendance were Clint Didier, Republican, and Doug McKinley, Democrat

Incumbent Dan Newhouse had State Senator Sharon Brown read his statement in which he lamented the size of government and promoted the Republican-led “Balanced Budget Amendment,” which the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has lambasted (see Newhouse’s statement ended with a laundry list of his endorsements, including most recently, the Washington State Farm Bureau.

The other candidates who filed, John Malan and Glenn Jakeman, did not respond to LWV contact attempts.

This is an inexact on-the-fly transcript of the comments made by the candidates. Watch the video for the more accurate presentation of what the candidates said.

Opening Statements

Clint Didier opened by claiming that Dan Newhouse gets “failing grades” from conservative organizations, such as the Heritage Action for America ( and the “Freedom Foundation.” He claimed Newhouse received a 57% rating. He also criticized Newhouse for voting for the 2015 bipartisan omnibus budget bill ( Didier said the bill “funded everything I’m against, and claimed it “stole $150 billion from Social Security” and diverted it to Disability Insurance, “where the biggest disability is they can’t speak English” (

Doug McKinley started by saying that he agreed with “Clint” that Newhouse wasn’t fulfilling the promises he made in running for office, and agrees that there are serious problems in America that must be addressed. He said he believes our differences are in what the solutions are to those problems.

What’s Causing Climate Change and what should be done about it?

Clint Didier said that the “earth’s climate has always changed,” that volcanos cause more emissions than man, and that, “the ice cap has grown.” He said he worked on his farm in past years when it was 117(?) and it’s not that hot now. He claimed that people who are promoting climate change legislation are doing so to “get power.” He ended by saying “the climate is what God wants it to be.”

Doug McKinley said that said that in as much as he isn’t a climate scientist, he depends on the experts for his information on what’s happening and why. He said the “experts overwhelmingly point to human caused CO2 emissions as the cause of global warming.” He said that the few scientists who deny this are funded by the fossil fuel industry. He said “we are driving temperature up and there will be consequences.”

Do you favor Immigration Reform?

Clint Didier said we must first “secure the borders.” He said we are “over inundating” America with immigrants. Asked if he would support a path to citizenship he said, illegal immigrants would have to “pay a fine — there should be a penalty for coming illegally — get in line, learn English, take the test, and become a citizen.”

Doug McKinley pointed out that a bill had been passed by the House (Secure Our Borders First Act of 2015), but that the legislation wasn’t going to solve the problem (see DHS statement on the bill He said the so-called “Gang of 8” immigration reform bill was a more comprehensive attempt to address the issue (the bill didn’t pass for various reasons McKinley spoke to the benefits immigrants bring to our region, especially in ag, and spoke with feeling about the people — good, hard-working people.

Would you favor stronger gun laws?

Doug McKinley said he would support background checks across the board, so that people couldn’t buy guns on the Internet or in gun shows, or on the street. He would support laws preventing guns from being sold to people on the terrorist watch list, in addition to not selling guns to felons.

Clint Didier said “Our government sold guns to Mexican criminals during ‘Fast and Furious’ that turned up in attack on [Paris] France” (this was a viral right-wing conspiracy Internet story). Didier said gun ownership is a 2nd Amendment right, not to be infringed. He said “Thomas Jefferson said that our 2nd Amendment right to bear is to protect us from a tyrannical government (Jefferson never said this). Didier said it’s already against the law for felons to own guns.

What’s your position on the U.S. economy, and the role of the Federal Reserve?

Clint Didier said, “I’d eliminate the Federal Reserve and put us back on the gold standard.” He lamented that the Fed’s influence keeps going up. He said the federal government spends too much and doesn’t do us any good. He said, “I farm 1100 acres and have to struggle to make ends meet because of the $.71 gas tax” (state gas tax is 62.9c/gal, but is scheduled to rise by 7c to fund infrastructure repair

Doug McKinley said the federal government built the dams and irrigation infrastructure that makes our multi-billion dollar agriculture industry possible. He said the way to fix the budget deficit is to “restore the Middle Class.” He said all the income and wealth is going to the top 1% and prosperity must be shared. He said wages have stagnated since the 1980s.

Do you support the TPP?

Doug McKinley said we have a global economy and trade agreements are a necessary part of it. Washington's economy, especially agriculture, depends on trade. “If you don’t write the rules, someone else will,” he said.

Clint Didier said, the federal government didn’t build the dam, people built the dam and some of them are buried under them. He said, “No, I don’t support these trade agreements.” He said, “They result in less jobs.” He said “China is a currency manipulator.” He said, “We have the cleanest coal plants in the world. Think about the resource we’re shipping away. China has no concern about the environment.”

If nothing is done about it, Social Security benefits will have to be reduced in 2037. A number of suggestions have been made, … What would you do about that?

Clint Didier said, “They stole Social Security money to pay for disability. I’d support having people create their own retirement plan. Tax free.”

Doug Mckinley said he supports the suggestions [mentioned by the moderator], and added that we can also help stabilize Social Security by raising wages.

How would deal with the issue of student debt?

Doug McKinley said he favors free public university/college education up to incomes of $125K.

Clint Didier said we should “reevaluate colleges.” He said, “Professors are making too much money and filling students’ minds with mush.” He said students should have to pay their debts. He said “Colleges should be held responsible for jobs not being there when students graduate.

What is your position on our foreign policy and military deployments?

Clint Didier said, Thomas Jefferson warned us about foreign entanglements. “We are the friends of liberty everywhere, but guardians of ours alone” (this is a favorite saying of conservatives, but I find no evidence it was said by Jefferson). Didier then went on to decry transgender bathroom laws.

Doug McKinley said that our military intervention in the Middle East hasn’t been successful, and said drone strikes that kill civilians are causing a backlash. He said ISIS is not a state, and it does not represent Muslims or the Islamic religion. He said, “We should not allow ISIS to control the narrative.”

What are your priority issues?

Doug McKinley ( said: raising income at all levels of middle class, and comprehensive immigration reform. He said our problems are non-partisan. It’s the prosed solutions that have become partisan.

Clint Didier “My opponent is playing the game” (I don’t know if was referring to McKinley or Newhouse). He said, “We got to united and take our country back.” He urged people to go to his website,, and pointed out that someone had stolen his domain name containing Didier, so he had to change it to Clint. He also urged people to listen to his 0830 broadcast on ACN, and donate to his Washington Patriots PAC (

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