Party unification and breakfast were on the agenda as losing Republican gubernatorial candidates gathered to show support for primary winner Ellen Craswell.
The Pierce County Republicans Unity Day rally, held Saturday, also allowed the GOP faithful to help raise sagging morale and emphasize the importance of an undivided party in the November elections.
“Everyone said we wouldn’t stick together. But we did stick together. We didn’t let our differences divide us; we let our common interests unite us,” said House Speaker Clyde Ballard.
Craswell, who received about 15 percent of the gubernatorial vote in Tuesday’s primary delivered the same message while praising her former rivals.
“We’ll never agree on everything,” the former state senator said after hugging them on stage. “But we agree on the big things. The differences were small, the overall goals were united and any one of these candidates would have served you well.”
Craswell said the voters’ choice between herself and Democratic nominee Gary Locke will be clear-cut.
“It will not be difficult to tell us apart,” she said. “I believe with all my heart that we will have a conservative Republican pro-family majority in the House and the Senate and in the governor’s office.”
While Craswell’s widespread network of support from Christian conservatives has caused rivals to question her appeal to independent voters, they conceded she has made an attempt to widen her support.
“I think she’s shown the ability to broaden her base,” said King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng, who lost to Craswell on Tuesday.
“She will be talking about basic principles of the Republican party - smaller government, basic values, crime and those sorts of issues. If she does that, she’ll have a shot in November,” said Maleng, who was sporting a personalized Craswell button. But “it’s an uphill battle.”
Before the primary, Maleng had sent out a letter to business leaders saying, “Ellen cannot win a general election in November.”
Jim Waldo said Craswell’s primary performance was undeniable testimony to her appeal.
“I think she’s demonstrated pretty convincingly that she has a strong base of supporters and a great organization,” Waldo said.
He said he was willing to help broaden the support by offering his list of supporters to the Craswell campaign.