Lots of third-party candidates file to run for office

Libertarians say they want to get back on ballots; independents, others also appear

Staff writerMay 16, 2014 

A dozen Libertarian candidates filed to run for state House positions this week, pledging to put their party back on the state map after a few years of invisibility.

A few of the candidates went together to the Capitol on Friday to register their candidacies.

Steven Nielson, an Orting resident running against Republican Rep. J.T. Wilcox of Yelm in the 2nd District — which overlaps the Thurston-Pierce county line — led the charge. He was among the many third-party or alternative candidates who got into the action on the final day of filing.

“Libertarians are going to win. We’ve got a group of candidates who are here to take this state back,” Nielson, a quality engineer in the aerospace industry, told supporters inside the Capitol. “We want to limit the government role in our wallets and our bedroom. We’re here to free Washington’s voters.”

The 12 Libertarians who filed are mounting challenges around the state, in places such as Spokane, Mead, Vancouver, Longview, Sequim, Redmond, Seattle and Bellingham.

Libertarians won major party status in Washington in 2000 when three of their statewide candidates received at least 5 percent of the vote, permitting them nearly automatic access to the November ballot. But few third-party candidates have gotten that far since the state’s top-two primary system took effect in 2008, allowing only two finalists to compete in the final round.

Filing week ended Friday afternoon, although special filing periods will be held in any districts that failed to attract any candidates.

By day’s end, Nielson wasn’t the only alternative to Wilcox for voters in the 2nd. Rick Payne of Graham filed, identifying himself with the Marijuana Party.

And Democrat Greg Hartman of Orting filed to run in the 2nd District’s other House race against first-year Rep. Graham Hunt, a Republican from Orting. Hartman ran for the House in 2012 and lost.

In the 20th Legislative District, which runs from south Thurston County to Clark County, Michael Savoca of Rainier continued the alternative candidate trend. He filed with no party preference against Republican Rep. Richard DeBolt of Chehalis. Savoca has been active in an initiative campaign to curb the influence of money in politics.

Among last-day filers in federal races was Jennifer Gigi Ferguson of Lakewood. She filed as an Independent Party candidate in the 10th Congressional District, which runs from Olympia to Shelton, Puyallup and University Place. Ferguson ran as a socially conservative Democrat in 2012 but lost in the primary.

Already filed were U.S. Rep. Denny Heck, D-Olympia, Pierce County Council member Joyce McDonald, R-Puyallup, and Human Rights Party candidate Sam Wright of Olympia.

In partisan county courthouse races, two Independent Party candidates filed late in the day.

Bud Blake of Tumwater filed Friday to run against Thurston County commissioner Karen Valenzuela of Olympia, a Democrat, and Carol Person of Tumwater filed against Thurston County Assessor Steven Drew, a Democrat from Olympia. Person had been local Republicans’ top choice to replace Kim Wyman as county auditor in January 2013, but county commissioners chose Gary Alexander instead.

Barring write-in candidates, most county officeholders avoided an opponent this year — including the coroner, prosecutor, sheriff and treasurer. So did three District Court judges who filed for re-election without opponents.

Also Friday, a race for Thurston County Public Utility District commissioner drew another candidate. Patrick A. Thomas of Yelm filed for the District 2 seat; Russ Olsen of Lacey and Brian G. Hess of Yelm filed earlier.

Brad Shannon: 360-753-1688

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