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Originally published Sunday, August 8, 2010 at 4:00 PM

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The Times recommends Jay Inslee and James Watkins in the 1st Congressional District primary

The Seattle Times editorial board suggests Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Bainbridge Island and Republican James Watkins for 1st Congressional District primary election.

THE 1st Congressional District is a geographic mash-up that includes parts of three counties, stretching from Woodinville in the east to Silverdale in the west.

The diverse district that snugs around Bellevue and Seattle like a hat has been well represented by Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Bainbridge Island. He is endorsed in the primary as is one of his challengers, Republican James Watkins.

Watkins is serious about running for office. So much so he left his job at Microsoft to challenge Inslee. The other two Republicans in the race are not serious candidates.

Watkins understands what is needed in Congress. He said this election is about three things; creating jobs, government spending, and the deficit. He backs up his three points with talk about spending less on the military and leaving Iraq and Afghanistan. He wants to see government action to get money to Main Street and stimulate small and medium-sized businesses, rather than the financial institutions that helped usher in the Great Recession.

Watkins also scores points for believing global warming is real and wanting to work in Congress to better the environment. An issue he will need to understand thoroughly because Inslee is Congress' point man on the environment.

Inslee understands his district, as evidenced by his work on the environment and Internet and communications issues. He sits on the House Commerce Committee, where he has championed an open Internet and fought against media consolidation.

Inslee recently voted against a war-funding bill. The bill passed, but Inslee's opposition was the right thing to do. He believes there are more effective and less costly ways to fight terror groups than a massive occupation.

Drawing a sharp opponent like Watkins will force Inslee to work harder than he has had to in past elections. Good. Voters of the 1st District deserve a contest between two qualified candidates.

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