Brendan Williams, the former three-term state representative, filed to run in a crowded Court of Appeals race Thursday, making an abrupt turn away from a Thurston County Superior Court seat he had been collecting cash and a slew of labor endorsements for.
In a separate move, Thurston Superior Court commissioner Indu Thomas filed for the seat Williams had been eyeing.
Today is the last day to file paperwork to run in federal, state and local races. Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna officially entered the race for governor Thursday, filing electronically from Spokane. His main rival, Democrat Jay Inslee, filed Tuesday.
“I have heard the same thing from workers, business owners, students and retirees as I have travelled the state – that Olympia is broken,” McKenna said in a statement. “I look forward to extending across all of state government the bipartisan record of achievement that we’ve had in the attorney general’s office.”
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In filing for the Division 2 appellate seat, Williams joins five other candidates – Pam Loginsky of Port Orchard, Thomas Bjorgen of Olympia, Michael Lynch of Tumwater, Thomas Weaver of South Colby and Jim Foley of Olympia.
The Division II-District 2 appellate seat is open after Judge David Armstrong decided to not seek another term on the bench. The court serves Thurston, Mason and four Olympic Peninsula counties.
Williams is a liberal Democrat and served as a partisan advocate in the House, but he said: “The law is the law. I would uphold it no matter what it is. I am not going to do anything that would disrespect the oath that I took.”
Williams also cited his past experience as a clerk for Gerry Alexander, the recently retired former chief justice of the Supreme Court, saying in a news release, “We need the fairness Justice Alexander brought to this role.”
Since leaving the House in 2010, Williams has worked as deputy state insurance commissioner. He has been an outspoken advocate for labor, and his campaign steering committee has three House Democrats who represent the coast and Olympic Peninsula.
Williams’ decision might have an impact on at least one of two open seats on the Thurston County Superior Court.
In the race Williams was eyeing, Thomas became the third candidate filing to run for retiring Judge Thomas McPhee’s position; Thomas was among the candidates applying for appointment earlier in the year to retiring Judge Christine Pomeroy’s position.
The others running for McPhee’s position are former Thurston County Bar Association president Erik Price and Olympia school board member Allen Miller.
In the other Thurston Superior Court race, ex-justice Alexander has endorsed Christine Schaller, who is a court commissioner. Schaller on Tuesday drew a challenge from Marie Clarke, a Tumwater lawyer who described herself as a supervising appellate and trial attorney in the tort claims division of the state Attorney General’s Office.
The six Superior Court incumbents have not drawn challengers. Without opposition, each would be automatically elected to another four-year term.
By contrast, the wide-open appellate race has drawn an unusually large field:
• Loginsky works for the state prosecutors association and also ran for Supreme Court in 2002, losing in a three-way race to incumbent Justice Charles Johnson.
• Bjorgen has worked for the AG, Legislature and county prosecutor’s office, and more recently he has had land-use roles as hearings examiner for Olympia, Thurston County and DuPont.
• Lynch is a longtime state attorney who touts his experience overseeing 50 to 70 appellate cases as head of the state AG’s tort claims division and says he has been lead counsel “on over a thousand cases in all three divisions of the Washington State Court of Appeals, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Washington State Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court of the United States.”
• Weaver is a criminal defense and personal injury lawyer from the Bremerton area.
• Foley is an Olympia lawyer who has run for other judicial positions. He ran for Thurston District Court in 2008 and for Supreme Court twice – against Faith Ireland in 1998 and against Tom Chambers in 2000.
Other new filings include:
10th Congressional District – Sue Gunn of Olympia, filing as Prog. Independent Party.
State auditor – Craig Pridemore of Vancouver, Democrat; Mark Miloscia of Federal Way, Democrat.
Insurance commissioner – Scott Reilly of Medina, Republican.
Superintendent of public instruction (nonpartisan) – Don Hansler of Spanaway.
Supreme Court (nonpartisan) – Justice position 2: Scott Stafne of Seattle
Legislative District 2 – Senate: Bruce Lachney of Eatonville, Democrat.
Legislative District 35 – House position 1: Kathy Haigh of Shelton, Democrat.
Thurston County Commissioner District 1 – George Barner of Olympia, filing as Independent Demo Party.
Mason County Commissioner District 1 – Randy Neatherlin of Belfair, no party preference.
Mason County Commissioner District 2 – Randy Churchill of Shelton, Republican; Mark Core of Shelton, Republican.
Updated May 18 to correct Judge David Armstrong's name.