DeBolt hasn't ruled out run for Baird's District 3 seat

State House Republican Leader Richard DeBolt, R-Chehalis, says he has yet to decide whether he will run for U.S. Rep. Brian Baird's seat in 2010, after the six-term Vancouver Democrat retires.

“I haven’t thought about it enough to rule it out,” DeBolt said.

DeBolt said filling Baird’s seat hasn’t been a priority, that he has been busy preparing to put forward legislation that will help Lewis County when the Legislature reconvenes in January. DeBolt would like to pass a bill, for example, that would put a hold on the Growth Management Act for five years for counties with more than 7 percent unemployment.

Lewis County’s jobless rate was 14.1 percent in November, compared with 7.5 percent in Thurston County, 10.5 percent in Mason County and 13.5 percent in Grays Harbor County.

“I think it applies when we’re growing, and right now the (economy) is shrinking,” he said.

DeBolt was elected to the Legislature in 1996 and has been Republican leader since 2006. He is a former director of the Centralia-Chehalis Chamber of Commerce and is the communications and community-relations director for TransAlta, the state’s only coal-powered electric plant.

Eight candidates have announced plans to enter the race to represent the 3rd District since Baird announced he would not seek re-election in 2010.

Even though the landscape has changed significantly since DeBolt endorsed Republican David Castillo, R-Olympia, DeBolt still stands behind Castillo.

He said Castillo and Jamie Herrera, R-Ridgefield, would be the front-runners from the Republican Party to replace Baird next year.

Also running as Republicans are ex-Marine David William Hedrick of Camas and Washougal City Councilman Jon Russell. State Sen. Joe Zarelli, R-Ridgefield is considering entering the race.

Running as Democrats are Sen. Craig Pridemore of Vancouver, peace activist Cheryl Crist of Olympia, state Rep. Deb Wallace of Vancouver and Hispanic activist Maria Rodriguez-Salazar of Vancouver.