Key Republicans are lining up behind Democratic state Sen. Tim Sheldon’s re-election in the 35thLegislative District, which is seen as one of a handful of races that could decide control of the Senate next year. The latest to jump in with support: Rob McKenna, the former two-term Republican attorney general, who ran for governor in 2012.
McKenna put out an email note to supporters this week asking them to attend the kickoff for Sheldon, which takes place Thursday [May 15] at 7 p.m. at Kitsap Golf and Country Club in Bremerton.
“He is a common-sense, fiscal conservative who fits his district exceptionally well and has been targeted by the usual suspects who demand higher taxes and more regulation which he opposes. Sen. Sheldon deserves our support,” McKenna’s email says.
The Senate Republican Campaign Committee also is backing Sheldon, a Democrat who aligns with Republicans and helped the Senate GOP form a majority caucus in January 2013.
So far, Sheldon has raised $100,034, according to data on file at the state Public Disclosure Commission. Republican challenger Travis Couture of Belfair has raised $9,289 and Democratic challenger Irene Bowling of Bremerton has raised $25,532.
Sheldon said he appreciates the support from McKenna, who carried the 35th in the governor's race and has endorsed his campaign.
He also says he expects Democrats to come after him, and the seat is one that Democrats want to win back as they try to regain a majority. Republicans control the Senate by a 26-23 margin, but that includes Sheldon and fellow Democratic Sen. Rodney Tom, who is retiring.
Update: McKenna's gubernatorial campaign manager Randy Pepple said Thursday that Sheldon sought the support and that the endorsement was handled like any other. He noted that Sheldon supported McKenna for governor and attorney general.