The presidential election process is well underway with the New Hampshire primary now in the books.
Down ballot races are starting to come to life too with candidates announcing their campaigns, introducing themselves to voters and raising money.
One of those candidates is Democrat Chris Armitage, who is challenging Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers. Armitage is an Air Force veteran who spent his time stateside at Fairchild.
“I deployed to the Middle East twice, where I served security forces and a base defense operations controller. I have masters of science in homeland security and undergrad in criminal justice. I also worked in law enforcement as a 911 operator and as a background investigator," Armitage said.
Now that he’s out of the military, he’s turned his eye to politics. He supports policies touted by candidates in the progressive wing of the Democratic party.
“Those things that I had in the military, amazing health care, education without crippling debt, a living wage, guaranteed housing, I want those to extend to the people I love," he said.
Armitage says he’s carrying that message to all corners of the sprawling Fifth Congressional District, areas that are rarely friendly to Democrats these days, especially progressive Democrats.
When he talks to farmers down in Walla Walla County or up in Stevens County, where are the areas he's most likely to connect with them?
“Health care, housing and jobs. Eighty-five percent of the money we give to farmers goes to the top one-percent of farmers. It doesn’t go to our small farms. The majority of farmers in, say, the Walla Walla Valley make less than a quarter-million dollars a year, which is a small farm. They want some of the support for green technology. They’re interested in having a livable planet," he said.
Armitage supports the concept of eliminating private health insurance, in favor of a government program for everyone.
“Seventy percent of Americans want Medicare for All, 30% of Congress wants it. That doesn’t sound very representative to me," he said.
Armitage thinks voters, even those who identify as Republicans, believe that the health care system in the U.S. is broken.
“I met with a family recently who lost their 19-year-old son to cancer that was preventable because the insurance company wouldn’t run a test they called exploratory and once he developed symptoms, it was already too late. Everybody’s got these stories," Armitage said. "We go out to rural communities, you send me up to Newport, I talked with a family that has three diabetic members and they’re splitting one prescription between the three of them.”
What America needs, he says, is a system similar to the health care he received as an active military member.
"Those doctors are salaried. They don’t get paid more for seeing more patients. How many people listening to this know what it’s like to show up to a doctor’s office, one, to be rushed out as soon as you can so they can see the next patient, but they still get to bill your insurance, and two, feel like they’re pushing for you to say get extra things done so they can charge more," he said.
Armitage also supports the Green New Deal touted by many progressives in Congress. He hopes to join them next year. But first he’ll have to defeat Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers in November. She’s running for a ninth term.
Hear more of our interview with Chris Armitage Thursday on Inland Journal. We’ll post our entire interview with him that same day.