What’s Peter Khalil up to?

Since announcing a challenge to U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler last month, the Democratic candidate for Washington’s 3rd Legislative District has been making appearances around the region. In early April, he spoke before the Vancouver City Council about halting fossil fuel infrastructure. He organized volunteers in Centralia, and he held a couple coffee shop meet-and-greets in Longview (I don’t think he pulled a Beto O’Rourke and climbed up on any tables, but haven’t heard confirmation on that either way.)

Most recently Khalil, insofar the sole 2020 Congressional challenger, presented to the Cowlitz County Democratic Central Committee.

There Khalil gave his introductory stump speech, which he’s repeated in a few different interviews by now — his background as a first-generation American, his Ivy League credentials, his anti-corruption platform fueled by a stint on Wall Street during the Great Recession. Then he took questions. Here’s what he had to say.

In response to a question about friction between the economy and environmental protections:

“When we say there is a false dichotomy against a good economy and a good environment, you’re absolutely right — that’s a false dichotomy. Because if we kill our environment, we will no longer be able to sustain jobs. People are going to die. We are going to have industries, Willapa Bay oysters for example, getting contaminated. It’s going to kill industry. So think the way communities can be more forward thinking about this is to No. 1, redefine what they say when they mean a green job, and incentivize jobs that are carbon neutral and not just in clean energy. And No. 2, to reframe that dichotomy.”

In response to a question about whether he’s ever held elected office:

“I’m a first-time candidate. I have taken an oath, a lifetime oath, to uphold the Constitution as a lawyer. I have been a neighbor, a friend, an active citizen in my community, but I am a first-time candidate. I don’t believe that holding an office qualifies you to hold another office. What you need is somebody with judgement who understands how to legislate, who understands how to look at laws, where you look at unintended consequences and you look at the way that those laws will affect people on the ground. So insofar as qualifications, while I have not held office before and have never sought to hold office before, I certainly have the background that’s necessary to make sure we’re not putting policies and laws that affect people in a negative way.”

(Fact check: This is false. While Khalil’s never held elected office, he has sought it. In 2011 he threw his hat into the ring to replace State Rep. Jim Jacks in the 49th Legislative District. He dropped out shortly afterward. The appointment went to Sharon Wylie.)

In response to a question on how to handle gun reform in a red-leaning district:

“The one thing I do believe in strongly is universal background checks. I understand this is a culture where we hunt, we target shoot. You will find people of all stripes who are gun owners, and I think constitutionally, that’s how it is. But I do support universal background checking, and regulation that’s reasonable to the community. That can be implemented, that’s narrowly tailored to what the cultures in our communities are. Because the regulations that work in Cowlitz and in Southwest Washington are not the same regulations that work in a dense city like New York City, or even Seattle. I also support the idea that we need to — gun control is also a public health issue. It’s a healthcare issue, if you will. I think if we have universal mental health care, there will be a reduction in gun deaths and in suicides.”

Watch the full video here.

Note: A previous version of this post misstated the host of Khalil’s presentation. While Our Revolution Cowlitz County posted Khalil’s remarks online, he was presenting to the Cowlitz County Democratic Central Committee.

Calley Hair

Calley Hair

I write about city and federal politics. Find me at twitter.com/CalleyNHair

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