A self-styled tea party "grandma" filed to challenge state Sen. Tim Sheldon in the rural 35th Legislative District on Monday, the opening day for candidates to file in Washington's fall election cycle.
“Nancy (grandma) Williams,” as she listed herself for the ballot, is a Republican from Belfair. She says that Sheldon, a maverick Democrat, has become a “career politician” who should not simultaneously serve as state senator and Mason County commissioner.
Williams’ filing was one of few twists the first day of filing, which included candidates around the state who are running for office under the “Neither Party” and “Lower Taxes” party names. There were a few surprises, including Independent candidate Glenn Gaither of Hoodsport who filed to challenge first-term Democratic Rep. Fred Finn in the 35th District.
In the much-watched U.S. Senate race, a few previously unannounced candidates surfaced as long shots to take on incumbent Democratic Sen. Patty Murray. They included Schalk Leonard of Poulsbo, who listed his affiliation or preference as “No Party”; Norma Gruber of Walla Walla, listed as Republican; James (Skip) Mercer of Bellevue, listed as “No Party”; and someone calling himself Goodspaceguy, who filed as a Democrat.
Under the state’s top-two primary, candidates can file by whatever party affiliation they want to make up as long as it fits within the letter limits on the ballot.
Filing period ends at 5 p.m. Friday.
Other first-day filers included four candidates in the 9th Congressional District including U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, D-Tacoma, Republican Dick Muri of Steilacoom, Republican James Postma of Steilacoom, and Roy Olson, a Green Party candidate from Olympia. In the 3rd Congressional District, Democrat Cheryl Crist of Olympia was first to file for the seat being vacated by Rep. Brian Baird.
Williams’ challenge of Sheldon has been in the works for months. She said in an interview earlier this year that national Democrats’ health reform bill is her “No. 1” priority and she wants to fight it “tooth and nail” as a state legislator. She said she also “would like to start chiseling away at entitlement programs” and she said she’s heard of food stamp recipients selling benefits for cash.
“I’m a tea party conservative. This is what got me moving. And that is less government. We know that. We’ve got to have less government,” Williams said.
Democrats often criticize Sheldon for siding with Republicans on budget, tax and business issues. Sheldon conceded he has been in office a long time, saying this is “the 10th time I’ll be running for the Legislature.” He served three terms in the House and after winning his Senate seat in 1997 he was re-elected three times to four-year terms in that body.
“I am a long-term politician. Now that (Sen. Ken) Jacobsen is leaving I think there are only five people who have been in the Legislature longer than I have. That may be a liability this year, but it’s a fact,” Sheldon said Monday. “I think I serve my constituents well. I’m not a partisan politician. I strive to serve everyone regardless of party. I don’t take party line votes.”
In another 35th District race, Gaither said he is running as an independent because he wants to work with both political parties to pass laws his constituents want. “I just don’t like the way things are going in Olympia. They keep raising taxes to try to balance out the budget; but they’re creating more spending,” Gaither said.
Gaither, who works as a corrections officer at the state prison in Shelton, said he would put a priority on law enforcement, the economy, education and transportation.
Also filing Monday:
• Karen Valenzuela, the Democratic Thurston County commissioner filed to seek a full four-year term; also Republican challenger Pat Beehler of Tumwater.
• Numerous candidates for Thurston County government positions, including Democrats Jeff Gadman and Steve Drew for assessor. Treasurer candidates filing so far included appointee Shawn Myers, a Democrat; Bill Pilkey, listed as an Independent Democrat; and Tom Nelson, a Republican. Also filing were Republican Kim Wyman for auditor, Democrat Betty Gould for clerk, Democrat Debra (Debbie) Mealy for sheriff, Democrat Jon Tunheim for prosecutor, and Democrat Gary Warnock for coroner.
• And in county District Court races, Kalo Wilcox filed for Position 1; Sam Meyer filed for re-election to Position 2; and M. Brett Buckley filed for re-election to Position 3.
• Alan Corwin filed for re-election to the Thurston County Public Utility District.
• House Republican Leader Richard DeBolt of Chehalis and his 20th District challenger, Democrat Corinne Tobeck of Tumwater; also Republican Rep. Gary Alexander of Thurston County.
• Rep. Tom Campbell, R-Roy, filed to run again in the 2nd District; in the 22nd, Democrat Judi Hoefling of Tumwater filed first for the open seat.
• Rep. Kathy Haigh, D-Shelton, and challenger Daniel (Dan) Griffey, a Republican from Allyn, in the 35th District.
• Bainbridge Island lawyer Charles Wiggins filed as expected for the Supreme Court position of Justice Richard Sanders. Three incumbents on the nine-judge bench are up for re-election this year.
Brad Shannon: 360-753-1688 firstname.lastname@example.org