Democratic challenger Brown wants to protect Eastern Washington ranchers

Candidate wishes to bring independent voice back for people of local region


ADAM JACKSON | The Daily Evergreen

Lisa Brown, Democratic congressional candidate for the 5th District, speaks about gun control and health care for a presentation March 29 in Bryan Hall. Brown looks to get a federal farm bill passed in Congress.

IAN SMAY, Evergreen reporter

Lisa Brown, the Democratic challenger for the 5th Congressional District seat held by Republican incumbent Cathy McMorris Rodgers, will look to become the first to defeat Rodgers since she took office in 2005.

Brown said she wants to bring a new voice to Washington D.C. to represent the people of Eastern Washington.

“I wanted to run to bring an independent voice back for Eastern Washington and do what I’ve always done, which is work with Democrats and Republicans to get affordable health care and good jobs here,” Brown said.

Affordable health care is one of the pillars of her campaign platform, she said. The first area she thinks needs reform is the cost of prescription drugs, an effort she said the federal government should lead. This would be part of her effort to lower health care costs across the board.

“Everybody needs an affordable option,” Brown said. “I think we could create Medicare as an affordable option that young people could buy into.”

Brown also said Rodgers and others in D.C. had allowed special interest groups to influence votes on health care.

She touted campaign finance reform as another pillar of her campaign, an area she said would be her first focus if elected in November. She said she wants to work to pass a law or amendment overturning Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, a U.S. Supreme Court case that protected political spending by corporations as free speech.

Along this same line, she said she would also aim to pass bills to make government more transparent.

Brown, the former chancellor of WSU Spokane, listed student debt as another area of focus for her campaign. She said a “multiple-pronged approach” is needed to ease the burden of debt on college students.

“First, we need to get Pell Grants to the level they were in when I was in college, when they covered tuition,” Brown said. “Second, we need to let students who already have student loan debt refinance that loan and potentially put limits on payments tied to income.”

The former state-level representative also spoke about the need for a renewed farm bill to protect Eastern Washington ranchers. Brown said actions on the federal level have hurt area farmers.

“The tariffs and trade war is very damaging to our farmers and ranchers,” she said. “The negative impacts are spreading to other businesses and to consumers. I want to stand up to the administration.”

The 2018 renewal of the federal farm bill has not been passed in Congress.

Brown said she thinks it’s a time for change in representatives in an effort to make a difference nationally.

“I think that [Rodgers] has been there for 14 years and people are really ready for a change,” Brown said. “Also, I think that this current administration has helped create a climate of polarization in the country, and frankly, the administration is moving backwards in a lot of areas that really matter to people in Eastern Washington.”