Originally published Monday, December 19, 2011 at 3:46 PM

Cantwell challenger makes rookie mistake in commenting on marital status

In a fundraising letter, Washington state Sen. Mike Baumgartner mentioned that his 2012 U.S. Senate opponent, Maria Cantwell is unmarried and "has frequently voted to undermine the role of parents in child rearing."

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REASONABLE people can agree or disagree on the wisdom of making "morning-after" pills readily available to young teens. But Republican state Sen. Mike Baumgartner made a rookie mistake attacking U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, the Democratic incumbent he is challenging in 2012.

In a fundraising letter, Baumgartner mentioned that Cantwell is unmarried and "has frequently voted to undermine the role of parents in child rearing."

Excuse us, but what does her marital status have to do with her views on the Plan B contraceptive and its availability to teenage girls? Is he suggesting Cantwell could not know anything about parenting and therefore lacks an informed opinion about contraceptives and young people? Really? What does that say to single or divorced parents?

Taking his comments to another level, does someone have to be a teacher to understand education? A Boeing engineer to appreciate a well-constructed airplane?

The 2012 Senate race between Baumgartner, Cantwell and perhaps others has barely begun. Baumgartner needs to get his name and ideas out in public. But a backhanded swipe regarding his opponent's marital status is the stuff of immature candidates and their staff.

The Baumgartner fundraising letter was meant as an attack on Cantwell's politics. It explains in detail how she is more liberal than President Obama, who mentioned his two teenage daughters as he announced his opposition to easy access to Plan B.

Baumgartner later expressed misgivings about his comments, saying he did not mean to impugn unmarried people. But the letter went out to supporters with his approval.

This page believes the government should not block access to Plan B for girls under 17.

Few people expect the Senate race to be all folded hands and gentle nudges. But a word of caution to Baumgartner: Lots of women and men are unmarried and have valid opinions on all kinds of topics. Cantwell's marital status is irrelevant.


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