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Tuesday’s election could bring a number of surprises. Here are some races to watch:

The most expensive U.S. Senate race in state history. No official Republican for the first time in decades in the Secretary of State race. A number of key legislative seats still up in the air. And voters for the first time selecting members of a five-member Spokane County Commission.

Results of Tuesday’s midterm election could be full of surprises, with a number of key races getting tighter.

Ballots must be returned to a drop box or postmarked by 8 p.m. that day. For more information on where to vote, visit or your local county elections office. County auditors have encouraged voters to get their ballots in earlier rather than later to allow for quicker processing and faster results.

Cornell Clayton.

Cornell Clayton, director of the Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service at Washington State University, called this midterm election cycle the “strangest” he’s seen.

“Obviously, turnout’s going to be key,” Clayton said.

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Hill says more should be expected of elected officials

Natasha Hill visited the Washington State University Foley Institute in Pullman on Thursday to discuss her run for the House of Representatives, as well as potential runs for the position in the future, universal health care and building a community.

Hill is the Democratic candidate in the Washington 5th Congressional District race in Tuesday general election against Republican Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who is seeking her 10th term in Congress. Hill currently runs her own law practice in Spokane.

Hill said she believes many of the Democratic Party’s policies were too little, too late and that she wants more done for students, the elderly and in health care.

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Moscow-Pullman Daily News

McMorris Rodgers touches on election fraud, fentanyl

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers spoke with Washington State University students about current events and gave them an inside look at her work in the U.S. Congress on the Energy and Commerce Committee on Thursday.

McMorris Rodgers, who was first elected for Washington’s 5th Congressional District in 2005 and is seeking a 10th term, appeared for a talk at the Foley Institute in Pullman. The Republican is being challenged by Democratic candidate Natasha Hill in the Nov. 8 general election.

While at WSU, McMorris Rodgers answered questions about accusations of the “stolen” 2020 presidential election, fentanyl and the claim President Joe Biden’s administration will hire 87,000 new Internal Revenue Service agents.

When asked by an attendee whether she believes the 2020 presidential election was stolen, McMorris Rodgers said she doesn’t believe that accusation, but wants concerns to be heard.

“No, I do not believe the last election was stolen — I voted to certify the election. I believe that President Biden is the legitimate president of the United States,” McMorris Rodgers said.

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Moscow-Pullman Daily News

Spin Control: Why the number of political debates for top offices may be declining

Before the public has a chance to see candidates debate in a major political race, a series of private debates has taken place behind the scenes by the campaigns.

They’ve debated where the debates will take place, who should sponsor them and what the format should be. And all of those debates come after the most important one: Should we debate at all and, if so, how many times?

The answers vary among candidates, campaigns and years. By some estimates, 2022 is a year in which campaigns for some major offices like Congress and governorships are down significantly.

Cornell Clayton.

Incumbents typically see less advantage in debating and are likely to try to limit their participation, said Cornell Clayton, a Washington State University political science professor and director of the Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy.

“Challengers want as many as they can get,” he added.

In the past, an incumbent who refused to debate would get “beat up” over it in the news media, Clayton said, but not as much any more. “I wonder if there’s a declining sense of obligation on the part of the candidates.”

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Washington candidates spin contrasting economic narratives

Experts say conflicting economic indicators allow both Republicans and Democrats to cherry-pick talking points in their efforts to spin federal investments as either runaway spending that has overheated the market or a strategic inoculation against recession. (Many economists agree federal relief played a modest role in driving inflation, alongside global supply chain interruptions and other issues.)

Despite the muddy economic outlook, some Democrats have continued to tout the impact of their historic spending bills. Others, though, have pivoted away from the economy to culture war issues they hope will reliably mobilize voters. Republicans, meanwhile, have often campaigned against federal spending despite voting for COVID-19 aid under former President Donald Trump or benefiting locally from recovery dollars.

Recent polling has shown that economic concerns remain a priority for many voters. How candidates talk about the economy, then, is likely to have real ramifications for the balance of power in Washington, D.C. The results on Nov. 8 may say less about the state of the economy than the stories voters want to believe.

Travis Ridout.

Travis Ridout, a political advertising researcher at Washington State University, said the hardline positions being dug out on federal spending – even among representatives who benefit from it – partly reflect broader partisan divides.

Campaigning on local issues and bringing resources back to a district may have worked years ago, but gerrymandering has resulted in fewer truly competitive districts, meaning that boosting turnout among the party’s base often matters more than peeling off theoretical swing voters. And that means playing to hot-button national issues.

“It means talking about abortion or the ‘scourge’ of immigration or whatever it is, as opposed to, I brought price supports for farmers in our district, or I got this road repaved,” Ridout said. “If all I need to do is make sure that my people show up to vote, then maybe it doesn’t make sense to talk about actually passing legislation. Maybe I just need to make people mad.”

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