Murray highlights abortion rights in bid for 6th Senate term

Murray Highlights Abortion Rights In Bid For 6th Senate Term
Jacquelyn Martin - staff, AP

FILE - Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., speaks during a news conference the vote to codify Roe v. Wade, in this May 5, 2022 file photo on Capitol Hill in Washington. Murray is one of the U.S. Senate's most powerful members and seeking a sixth term. She is being challenged by Tiffany Smiley, a Republican from Pasco, Wash.

SEATTLE (AP) — Patty Murray is running for a sixth term in the U.S. Senate and, if reelected, she’d join two former Democratic stalwarts as the longest serving senators from Washington state.

Murray, 71, was first elected to the chamber in 1992 during the “Year of the Woman” and has aggressively promoted her support of abortion rights ahead of Tuesday’s primary. Her most high-profile opponent is Republican Tiffany Smiley, a well-funded first-time candidate who says it’s time Washington had a new senator.

Murray’s nearly 30 years in the Senate place her behind only Democratic Sens. Warren Magnuson and Henry “Scoop” Jackson for longest service in the Senate from the Evergreen State. The powerhouse duo served 36 years and 30 years, respectively, and were among the most powerful senators of the mid-20th century.

Murray is now a member of the Democratic leadership and has risen to chair of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

Murray would be the favorite in the November election as Washington hasn’t elected a Republican to the U.S. Senate since 1994. But she’s taking no chances in what could be a tough year for Democrats with rising inflation and economic turmoil.

Murray’s campaign has spent more than $1 million to run television ads since June blasting Smiley for supporting Roe v. Wade’s reversal.

“I want a country where everyone can make their own choices,” Murray has said.

Murray and Smiley appear on the same nonpartisan primary ballot Tuesday, where the top two vote-getters advance to the general election, regardless of party.

Smiley, 41, is a mother of three who has highlighted her advocacy for her husband, a military veteran who was blinded in an explosion while serving in Iraq in 2005.

Smiley worked as a triage nurse until her husband, Scotty, was blinded. She quit her job and flew to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to be by his side.

Smiley says she worked tirelessly to stop the Army from pushing her husband, a West Point graduate, into a medical retirement. Instead, he became the first blind active-duty officer in the Army, and is featured in her political ads.

She recently announced her campaign had raised $2.6 million in the second quarter and had $3.5 million in cash on hand. Murray reported raising $2.6 million in the same quarter, with about $6.6 million in the bank at the end of June.

Smiley, a former nurse from Pasco, Washington, said the Supreme Court’s decision on Roe leaves it to voters in individual states to decide if they wanted to allow abortions. Smiley said she doesn’t support a nationwide ban on abortion, despite what Murray has contended in her ads.

Murray, Smiley has said, is “resorting to misleading scare tactics. It shows desperation.”

Murray is also highlighting her efforts to help middle-class families, saying there should be more tax cuts for them than for corporations.

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Associated Press writer Nicholas K. Geranios contributed to this story.