Patty Murray, Norm Dicks say response after health care vote has been subdued

In contrast to stories of threats and bricks through windows from health care reform opponents, two of Kitsap County's federal representatives tell a more subdued story of the measure's consequences.

"I've gotten amazing feedback from people who come up to me and say, 'Wow, thank you,'" U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, a Democrat from Bothell, said Monday after a visit with small businesses in Silverdale.

U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, a Belfair Democrat, said he has heard negative feedback, but it has died down since the bill was passed.

"This is a big issue, but it's not nearly as big as the jobs issue," he said.

Murray mentioned a constituent who said he will save $1,000 per month on health insurance for his college-aged kids who aged out of their parents' coverage. Now they will be covered until they're 26, Murray said.

She also heard from small businesses who were enthusiastic about the 35 percent tax credit they will receive.

The more people learn about what the reform will do for them, the more they like it, Murray said.

But she hasn't suffered the backlash that other members of Congress have reported, including death threats to members of both parties. Congress approved the measure March 21 mostly along partisan lines.

"I haven't taken any," Murray said. "I've heard nothing and I've been everywhere."

Later, Murray's spokeswoman Alex Glass said Murray has heard from opponents of the health care reform measure.

"We do get a lot of calls from people who are worried about it," Glass said.

Dicks said his greatest task this election cycle will be to boost local jobs.

"The biggest challenge will be to win back the support of independent voters who are very concerned about the economy," he said. "Employment is really the issue and people want to see that you're doing something."

Dicks is the new head of the House Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee, taking over for the late Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., who died Feb. 8.

While some observers say Democrats in Congress may lose seats in the November midterm election, no one has emerged as a competitive contender against Murray or Dicks, both up for reelection this year.

Dicks has defeated Republican Doug Cloud in the past three congressional contests, capturing between 66 and 71 percent of the vote each election.

Former state Sen. Dino Rossi, a two-time contender for governor, has been mentioned in the Senate race but hasn't officially declared.

So far, a handful of Republicans have declared their candidacy, including former NFL tight end Clint Didier and businessman Chris Widener.

Rossi reportedly visited Washington, D.C. last week to meet with U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and explore a challenge to Murray.

"I think it would be a great idea just because he has so much experience going into it," said Kitsap County Republican Chairwoman Sandra LaCelle.

Murray herself gave little consideration to the idea on Monday.

"It's a democracy," she said. "Whoever, I'm fine."

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