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Originally published May 23, 2012 at 4:06 PM | Page modified May 25, 2012 at 3:14 PM

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Corrected version

Hobbs stays above 1st District campaign money grab

State Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, is to be congratulated for not jumping in to the congressman-for-a-month race in the old 1st District.

Seattle Times Editorial

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CANDIDATES in Washington's new 1st Congressional District who also filed to run in the old 1st are wasting the voters' time.

The seat vacated belatedly by U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee will be districted away in January and the candidates will be on the ballot for the August primary and the November general election.

The prize is being elected to Congress for a month. What's the point of that?

There is one: money, and slipping around the legal limits on collecting it.

An election for an evanescent seat is still an election. It is separate from the election to fill the seat in the new — and very differently configured — 1st District, though the parallel elections take place at the same time and clutter some of the same ballots. The key is that under federal rules, candidates can accept up to $2,500 per donor per election.

That means that in this one race for Congress, donors are no longer limited to a "double-max" $5,000, for both the primary and general, but can "quadruple-max" at $10,000. Make no mistake that means more mailbox and TV-commercial harassment of the poor voters in the new 1st District, not the old one.

Dwight Pelz, chairman of the state Democratic Party, had asked the Democrats in the race for the new 1st District not to file for the old seat. He wanted to avoid voter confusion and, he thought, increase the chance of electing a Democrat. Darcy Burner ignored his request and was quickly followed by Democrats Suzan DelBene, Laura Ruderman and Darshan Rauniyar, and by Republican John Koster.

One Democratic candidate, state Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, and one independent, Larry Ishmael, stayed out. Hobbs has accused his opponents of "trying to circumvent campaign-finance laws," which of course they can deny. They can say they are simply taking advantage of the law.

They are also taking advantage of the public.

Our congratulations go to candidate Hobbs, who took the more credible path in resisting the urge to join them.

This editorial originally omitted Larry Ishmael's decision not to file in the race for the one-month term representing the old 1st Congressional District.

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