Rep. Linda Smith says she’s dedicated to one thing for the next two months, and it isn’t running for governor.
After that, the Vancouver congresswoman is leaving the door open - a little or a lot, depending on interpretation - for a run at Washington’s chief executive. In Spokane to attend the county Republican Party’s annual fund-raising dinner, Smith said she hopes to force a tough campaign finance reform bill to a vote before May.
The bill, which would eliminate political action committees and put new restrictions on campaign contributions, has enemies in high places, including the office of House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
“I’ll do everything I can to pass it this year,” Smith said in an interview after speaking to a gathering sponsored by United We Stand America.
A coalition of groups such as Common Cause, United We Stand and the League of Women Voters will make visits to every member of Congress in the first two weeks of April, Smith said. They’ll ask each representative to either support the bill or sign a “discharge petition” which would force the House to vote on it.
“If we don’t pass it by May, it probably won’t pass. The rest of the year will be too political.”
So win or lose, will she run for governor in May? She was asked.
“One of these sparks already in the field could catch fire by then,” she said, referring to the GOP gubernatorial candidates that currently number seven.
And if they don’t? “That’s for May. This (campaign finance reform) is for now.”
If Smith wasn’t actively running for governor, plenty of other candidates were at the party’s annual Lincoln Day dinner. Six of the seven made the trip for a chance to make a two-minute speech.
But with some 600 Republicans filling the ballroom of the downtown Red Lion, most candidates said the trip was well worth it.
Before, during and after the dinner, the activists snatched up campaign literature and buttons, grilled candidates and bid on donated items to help pad the county party’s campaign coffers.
One of the most sought-after items was an 1823 commission in the Massachusetts militia, donated by Commissioner Steve Hasson. Bidding was topping out at $800 for the framed document.
Hasson bought it at an antique store for $100.