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Cantwell's first GOP challenger steps up in Spokane

SPOKANE, Wash. - A Washington state senator from Spokane plans to take on U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell. Michael Baumgartner made his announcement Monday. He's the first Republican to launch a 2012 challenge against the Democratic senator from Washington. Correspondent Jessica Robinson reports.

Baumgartner, at age 35, is fairly new to politics. His resume includes work in Iraq and Afghanistan as an economic consultant. In 2010 he ran for state senate and beat the Democratic incumbent in a race that went down as the most expensive in Washington senate history.

Baumgartner says he realizes the odds are even longer in his new challenge against a two-term incumbent U.S. senator.

Michael Baumgartner: “It is going to be an enormous challenge to be sure, but just based on my experience last year when I ran against an incumbent that everyone said couldn't be beat, you know I didn't really look at the challenge as a reason not to do it, I looked at the need for someone to bring new ideas as the reason to do it.”

Baumgartner says he will focus on jobs and cutting environmental regulation on business. But he's also critical of the prolonged wars in the Middle East. Baumgartner says he would like to see a draw-down of troops in Afghanistan even faster than what President Obama has proposed.

Copyright 2011 Northwest News Network

Inland Northwest Correspondent Jessica Robinson reports from the Northwest News Network's bureau in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. From the politics of wolves to mining regulation to small town gay rights movements, Jessica covers the economic, demographic and environmental trends that are shaping places east of the Cascades.