Less than a month after announcing a bid for a seat in the Legislature, North Thurston High School teacher-turned-hero Brady Olson has decided to scrap his campaign.
He was running as a Democrat for a House seat in the 22nd Legislative District.
“In the short time that I have been running, I’ve been disillusioned beyond anything I can describe,” Olson posted Sunday night on Facebook. “… I guess I’m too old-school for this current political game and how it is played.”
The government and civics teacher said he plans to refund 100 percent of his campaign donations, which had reached nearly $7,000.
“From the get-go, people in my own party made it abundantly clear to me that they did not want me in this race because I would be upsetting the apple cart,” Olson wrote on Facebook.
“It was clearly someone else’s turn to have this seat, and I hadn’t paid my dues. In fact, I was even told, ‘You cannot win this without us,’ and this sadly was before anyone even asked me my opinions on the issues or about why I was running.”
Olson told The Olympian that the tipping point was Saturday, during a Champagne brunch fundraiser hosted by Thurston County Democrats. He said the candidates lined up to introduce themselves, but he was told he wasn’t allowed to address the crowd.
“They said I hadn’t filled out the proper paperwork to say I was a Democrat,” Olson said.
Thurston County Democrats chairwoman Katie Nelson said the party has a vetting process candidates must go through to be eligible for “campaign services,” which include speaking at its functions.
“We treat everybody equally,” Nelson said. “If you had been through the vetting process, you were allowed to speak. If you hadn’t been through the vetting process, you weren’t allowed to speak.”
She said about five people at the event hadn’t been vetted and weren’t allowed to give one-minute speeches at the event. She said she encouraged attendees to meet with all of the candidates who were there to learn more about their issues.
Nelson said she hadn’t heard about Olson’s decision to end his campaign.
“I think it’s unfortunate,” she said. “I am all about getting new people involved in the party. … I wish he would have reached out to me or someone on the executive board.”
In April, Olson tackled and restrained a student who fired a gun at North Thurston High School. He has received numerous awards and special recognition for the act, including the Governor’s Lifesaving Award.
Campaign volunteer Lora Kreidler-Budd said she was at Saturday’s event and was saddened by how the party treated Olson.
“He saved lives that day, and people really need to think about that,” she said. “What he did was amazing. Imagine what he could do in the Legislature? … I think they really missed out.”
Kreidler-Budd said she and other supporters have begun talking about how they can work to get Olson elected to the Legislature as a write-in candidate.
“I think there are a lot of other people who will definitely be writing him in too,” she said.
Meantime, other candidates campaigning for the seat now held by Rep. Chris Reykdal include Brad Banks, a Lacey Democrat; Franklin Edwards III, an Olympia carpenter; and Laurie Dolan, a former teacher, school administrator and aide to former Gov. Chris Gregoire.
Rhenda Strub, who served on the Olympia council and Thurston County Planning Commission, also announced her candidacy for the seat.