Former state Department of Agriculture director and state lawmaker Dan Newhouse formally announced his candidacy for Congress on Thursday.
“I take the word ‘representative’ very seriously,” Newhouse said in a telephone interview. “I listen to people and try to represent their perspectives.”
In an increasingly crowded field of candidates, Newhouse is the only hopeful so far from Yakima County. He represented the 15th Legislative District as a Republican from 2003 to 2009, and was active in legislative water issues, in particular working to secure more storage for the Yakima Basin.
In 2009, Newhouse was appointed by former Gov. Chris Gregoire, a Democrat, as Agriculture director.
In 2013, Gov. Jay Inslee decided not to retain Newhouse as department director and he returned to Sunnyside to focus on running his family’s 600-acre farm.
But Newhouse has remained active publicly, notably as chief spokesman for those opposed to an initiative on the November ballot that would have required genetically modified foods to be labeled in Washington state. The opposition was successful as the initiative failed.
“I’m familiar with all the concerns we have in the district,” Newhouse said. “I think I’m a good fit, and now I’m heading into the ring.”
In a prepared statement, Newhouse said his experience as a legislator and director of a state agency made him “acutely aware that every penny spent came out of the pockets of the taxpayers. I have reduced agency budgets and adopted lean working principles. It is time for Washington, D.C., to follow the same rules that apply to countless local governments and private businesses by being just as fiscally responsible.”
He called the Affordable Care Act “an example of how complex government mandates create uncertainty and destroy jobs ... I will work tirelessly to see that Obamacare is repealed and replaced with a market-based approach which takes government out of the doctor-patient relationship.”
Newhouse’s announcement is the latest in what’s been a week of declarations from around the district.
The other candidates to announce are state Sen. Janéa Holmquist Newbry, R-Moses Lake; Brad Peck, Franklin County commissioner; Clint Didier, former NFL tight end and Connell farmer; Gavin Seim, an Ephrata portraitist and filmmaker; and Josh Ramirez of Pasco, a Washington River Protection Solutions project control specialist. Several other potential candidates from the Tri-Cities area also have said they will soon make a decision on whether to enter the race.
Newhouse’s presence as the lone Yakima Valley candidate could help him if it remains that way through the August primary. But Newhouse said he also has ties to the Tri-Cities and intends on campaigning there heavily.
“I’ve worked with a lot of people in that side of the district,” he said.