Our View — Carter is attacking Hargrove with a red herring

There are many important issues facing our state — the budget, education and transportation infrastructure just to name a few. Even so, it’s not uncommon for a challenger to ignore many of them and latch on to a single issue and try to hammer his opponent with it. Sadly, that strategy can even be successful.

But, if it’s going to work, it better be rock-solid.

Sequim Independent Larry Carter is employing this tried and true campaign course. In his bid to unseat longtime state Sen. Jim Hargrove, he’s spending a lot of campaign time and money to hit Hargrove over a bill he accuses the longtime senator of killing.

The bill would have removed the statute of limitations on some sex offenses. Instead of moving it out of committee to the Senate floor for a vote, Hargrove referred it to the Sex Offender Policy Board and the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs for further study before taking action. Carter says Hargrove “threw the House of Representatives under the bus by refusing to submit that bill” to a vote after the House voted unanimously to approve it.

Carter has been running cable television ads criticizing Hargrove’s decision.

Hargrove counters by saying that he checked with other colleagues on the committee before referring the bill, and that there were concerns on the impact of the legislation better answered by experts.

The Sex Offender Policy Board, for example, is populated with law enforcement, prosecutors and victims’ advocates, among others.

“Any senator could have disagreed and moved to have pulled that bill to the floor, and no one brought it up,” Hargrove told The Daily World. “Our decision was that it was prudent to get recommendations from the experts first.”

Prudent is the key word in this squabble. Is it prudent for Carter to try to pin Hargrove with the “soft on crime” label? One thing’s for sure — it’s going to be a really tough sell. Hargrove is chairman of the Senate Human Services and Corrections Committee. He was named the Legislator of the Year by the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs this year, and its “Legislative Champion” in 2008. The year before, he won the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence Award.

Even with those credentials and his experience, Hargrove, who has been in the Legislature since 1985 and the Senate since 1993, still thought the experts should have their say before he made a decision.

Attacking him over this bill is like saying a shark has no teeth because it passed by a single fish in the ocean without eating it.

It’s time that Carter goes back to campaigning on the issues, and stops trying to chip away at Hargrove’s integrity with a red herring.

The Daily World’s Editorial Board includes Publisher Bill Crawford, Editor Doug Barker, Sports Editor Rick Anderson and City Editor Dan Jackson.