Congressional hopefuls are quickly coming out of the woodwork a little more than a day after U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Pasco, announced he will retire at the end of his term.
Former state legislator and Department of Agriculture director Dan Newhouse, a Republican from Sunnyside, and state Sen. Janéa Holmquist Newbry, R-Moses Lake, both have announced an interest in running that’s just shy of declaring candidacy. State Rep. Charles Ross, R-Naches, said Friday he will make a decision sometime after the current legislative session.
A number of Republican candidates from the Tri-Cities area are also expressing interest or are expected to soon.
State Sen. Sharon Brown, R- Kenewick told the Tri-City Herald on that she’s in the process of forming an ex p l o rat o r y committee to look at running for the seat. Also, Franklin County Commissioner Brad Peck told the paper he hasn’t ruled out a run and Benton County Commissioner Jerome Delvin, a former state lawmaker, is also considered a potential candidate.
The other factor in the developing race will be whether district Democrats can rally around a viable candidate. The district is considered safe for Republicans, but a decent turnout by Democrats in the August primary could make the struggle for votes among a crowded Republican field that much more competitive.
Clint Didier, a former NFL tight end and tea party activist from Franklin County, has set a decision date for Monday. Another far-right conservative candidate, Gavin Seim of Ephrata, had already declared his candidacy in December. Also Friday, Josh Ramirez of Pasco, a project control specialist at Washington River Protection Solutions, said he plans to run as an independent.
Some outside Republican hopefuls have already pulled their names from the discussion. State Reps. Matt Manweller, R-Ellensburg, and David Taylor, R-Moxee, both announced they would not be running.
Hastings’ Thursday morning announcement caught many in the district by surprise. He had the seat locked up for 20 years, and few thought he would be ready to leave it, although he is 73 years old.
Those considering a run for office said the sudden attention on the race has created a frantic atmosphere.
“It’s been crazy since (Thursday) morning,” said Newhouse, who served in the state House from 2003 to 2009 and as state agriculture director from 2009 to 2013. “I’m letting people know I am interested and I’m strongly considering it.”
In a news release full of exclamation points and quotes by some of her supporters, Holmquist Newbry announced Friday that she had formed an exploratory committee to look into a potential bid. The committee includes Yakima City Councilman and Mayor Micah Cawley.
She said she “will be visiting with key leaders throughout the district in the coming weeks to assess the viability of my candidacy.”
Other potential candidates, such as state Rep. Bruce Chandler, R-Granger, and state Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, did not respond to requests for comment Friday.
The candidate filing period is May 12-16. The primary is Aug. 5.