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Tuesday, November 1, 1994 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Jack Metcalf In The 2Nd

REPUBLICAN Jack Metcalf is endorsed for Congress in the 2nd District without pride or enthusiasm.

Voters in both parties from Monroe to Bellingham deserve better choices than they will have on the ballot next week. The primary was slim pickings too.

Democrat Harriet Spanel is a decent person, a good-government type whom voters of Whatcom County promoted from the state House to the Senate. But in six years she hardly made a ripple on the legislative pond in Olympia. The fear is she would disappear in the congressional ocean.

Metcalf is an ideologue, not a doer, who's better at ranting than legislating. To his credit, Metcalf is direct and voters will know exactly where he stands. It will only take one term before the 2nd District realizes it is being short-changed in Washington.

The frustration here is that neither candidate is a credible replacement for Al Swift, the classic low-profile congressman whose influence had more heft than his stack of press clippings. He virtually wrote the Northwest Power Act in his freshman term, and later would lead the charge for overhauling the Superfund, be a leader in telecommunications issues, push for campaign reform and emerge as the congressional godfather of high-speed rail transportation, now officially known as Swift Rail.

He did not always succeed, but that happens when one picks the toughest fights.

Nov. 9, both parties ought to be out recruiting for 1996.

Copyright (c) 1994 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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