We noted in our roundup of first-day candidate filings that state Senate candidate Lane Walthers filed for office Monday but doesn't want to talk about himself or his campaign yet. His reticence appears to apply to some fellow Democrats as well as reporters.
"Based on what I heard from our chair, we're having as much trouble getting a response" as the News Tribune did, said Brian Gunn, who's involved with the 31st District Democrats.
Walthers is a 54-year-old firefighter from Enumclaw.
He is challenging Republican Sen. Pam Roach of Auburn. Asked for information about himself Monday, he said he would send out a news release in a week or so.
Roach sees Machiavellian motives at work.
Roach faces a tough challenge from Rep. Cathy Dahlquist, a fellow Republican. Candidates are allowed to drop out until next Monday. Roach suspects Walthers filed to help Dahlquist by keeping serious Democrats out of the race, and that Walthers now will either jump out of the race, or stay and do no campaigning. "The man is not running," she said Tuesday.
A Democrat in the race could squeeze out either Dahlquist or Roach in the primary election.
Roach accuses Enumclaw Democratic Rep. Chris Hurst, whose home is near some property tied to Walthers, of being behind the move as a way to help Dahlquist. “This is just Hurst helping a Democrat in disguise as a Republican running in the 31st," Roach said.
Hurst certainly wants Roach out. His reaction when Dahlquist announced she would run says it all:
Thank God. It’s about time. When I meet with constituents, the question I get more than any other is, when is someone going to do something about Pam Roach? In recent years, Sen. Roach has become increasingly combative, unstable and ineffective. I don’t like to get in disputes with other parties, but in this case my seatmate Rep. Cathy Dahlquist is a person of extraordinary character, passion and personal integrity. It would be a welcome relief to see her replace Sen Roach.Hurst also gave Dahlquist $1,900, although he says that was because he didn't think a Democrat would run.
But Hurst denied orchestrating some fake candidacy. In fact, he said, it's Roach who has been trying to find "her own fake Democrat" to run. (Roach denied this).
Hurst said he has known Walthers for years but he's not a close friend, and that he has encouraged Walthers and other Democrats to run for either the Senate or Dahlquist's now-open House seat. He said Walthers is a serious candidate -- just perhaps one who hasn't decided yet where he will run.
"I think people are still waiting to see who else is going to file. You could see some withdrawals and some refiles," Hurst said. "I’m not sure Lane’s not going to jump into the open seat."
Meanwhile, Roach has filed a complaint with the Public Disclosure Commission over a letter Hurst sent out to lobbyists slamming her and predicting she will lose. He "uses his House campaign finances to address the Senate race," Roach wrote. "He forcefully goes against my candidacy."
In a response to the PDC, an attorney for Hurst said Roach's complaint is "obviously unfounded, frivolous and appears on its face to have asserted no basis to believe that Representative Hurst has done anything improper."
The campaign is off to a contentious start.