As election nears, Washington Senate candidates talk about democracy

As Democratic Sen. Patty Murray and Republican challenger Tiffany Smiley stump for votes, the candidates are talking about democracy itself.

The most passionate moments of last weekend’s debate in Spokane revolved around the Jan. 6 riots.

Murray recounted being locked in her office with insurrectionists pounding at the door.

“I will fight every day to make sure we never allow those people who continue the big lie, including my opponent on her website before she changed it in July, to question that election,” Murray said in the debate.

This summer, a Murray campaign ad highlighted an election integrity section on Smiley’s website, which was prominent before the primary.

“Our elections are important to people all over this country, and in fact, you questioned the 2004 presidential election as well. So I think this is on both sides of the aisle,” Smiley said in the debate.

Smiley said her husband, Scotty, lost his eyesight fighting for democracy while serving in Iraq.

“Do you believe that me and my family are a threat to democracy, Sen. Murray?” Smiley asked in the debate. “Tell everyone here today ... that, or disavow your campaign’s dangerous rhetoric that has spent millions of dollars to attack and paint me as someone I am not.”

“No one questions her belief in our democracy or her husband’s fight for our country, ever,” Murray said. “But do not conflate that with misconstruing about the intent of insurrectionists who were using their brute force to overtake the peaceful transfer of power.”

Earlier this month, KIRO 7 asked Smiley about the 2020 election.

Answering a question about whether President Biden was legitimately elected, Smiley answered, “Yes, President Biden was legitimately elected. I have been very clear about that from the beginning.”

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Smiley answered more directly than she did during a KIRO 7 interview in July, when she was asked if she felt the 2020 election was in doubt.

“Joe Biden is our president. But, at the same time, we can walk and chew gum at the same time and say we need to ensure that the voters need to have confidence in the system,” Smiley answered in July.

Smiley says it should be easy to vote and hard to cheat and that states should continue to manage their own elections.

Murray is the sixth-most senior member of the U.S. Senate and speaks often about democracy on the campaign trail.

“I absolutely believe that our democracy is at stake,” Murray said in an interview.

KIRO 7 asked Murray about a Democratic strategy to help election-denying Republicans in primaries.

The Washington Post reports Democrats spent nearly $19 million amplifying far-right Republicans who they calculated would be easier to beat in November.

KIRO 7 asked Murray if that was disingenuous.

“Look, I don’t make the decisions for campaigns or for people who support campaigns through their dollars,” Murray answered.

Pressed whether she could have used her influence to suggest the party not make that spending, Murray replied, “I don’t influence the Democratic Party or people who write election ads or people who ask for money.”

Murray and Smiley will answer questions from voters during a KIRO 7 Town Hall Sunday, Oct. 30 at 5 p.m.