> It was a surprise last week to turn to the Anacortes American editorial page to find a late Fifties photograph of 2nd District Congressman Jack Westland, young Michigan Congressman Gerald Ford and Buehl Berentson (my father). The three, all since deceased, were photographed at an Anacortes service club meeting where Ford was campaigning on behalf of Westland, the Republican incumbent. Dad, who worked on Westland’s D.C. staff and then in various roles with the Republican Party, always spoke highly of Ford for the countless hours of travel and speaking he did on behalf of GOP congressional candidates across the nation.
It was all the more interesting, then, to have the opportunity to listen to California Congressman Kevin McCarthy (pictured above) speak Monday morning at a Skagit County fund-raising event for candidate John Koster, seeking to defeat 2nd District Congressman Rick Larsen (D-Snohomish County). McCarthy, a second-term congressman with sense of humor still intact, told of his role as Chief Deputy Whip. As one of his responsibilities is candidate recruitment, he recalls approaching his party bosses to ask, “What’s my budget?” Their answer: “How much have you got?”
McCarthy, whose pitch on behalf of Koster included an emphasis on “investing in campaigns at the grassroots level,” said the 2nd District candidate has distinguished himself as one of the party’s “Young Guns” during an election season that holds great promise for the minority. He compared Koster to another congressional candidate who said this regarding his decision to seek office: “I have watched my country change before my eyes. How could I tell my children I watched and did nothing?”
As is always the case with partisan volunteers such as McCarthy, there was passion displayed in criticism of the other party. “In my first term in D.C.,” he said, “I learned that our Congressional leaders need to be held accountable. In my second term, I learned they need adult supervision.”
McCarthy, who had a full schedule of Northwest stops with Koster, told his audience this year’s slate of Republican congressional candidates is the largest in history. He estimated there are 40 House seats in play (including the 2nd District), and he explained his commitment to working on behalf of House candidates: “It’s easy,” he said. “By constitutional design, the House controls the nation’s pursestrings.”
A fourth generation Skagit County native who was moved kicking and screaming from this island community in 1960. I finally reclaimed an Anacortes address in 1980, and I have been in constant celebration of my return since that time. Many of us who call Anacortes home love Fidalgo Island for its natural assets: among them are rugged beaches, pristine lakes, thousands of acres of forestland and some awesome views of the Skagit Valley and surrounding islands. Another element of my love affair with this community is its people, both natives and immigrants. They will “star” in many of my journal entries.
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