Retired Army Col. Margarethe Cammermeyer said Friday she’ll take on two-term Republican Rep. Jack Metcalf to represent Washington’s 2nd District in Congress.
Cammermeyer, a Democrat who once called herself “one of the most famous lesbians in the country,” plans to file her candidacy on Monday. The 2nd District includes Western Washington from Everett, north of Seattle, to the Canadian border.
“As a mother of four, grandmother of five, nurse and soldier, I feel like I understand the issues facing families as they struggle to make ends meet,” Cammermeyer said in a statement.
Cammermeyer, 55, drew national attention by successfully fighting to stay in the Washington National Guard despite the military’s policy of discharging homosexuals.
“The citizens of the 2nd District and Washington can be assured that I will use that same determination and energy as I tackle the critical issues of education, social security, child care, transportation and the environment,” she said.
Cammermeyer said she wouldn’t be bothered by encounters with people who oppose her strictly because she is a lesbian.
“I have been under a microscope for seven years, so I’m used to that kind of scrutiny,” she said. “People know about my military career, my nursing, and they may have read a book or seen a movie about me, and I hope they can judge my character based on that (lifetime record).”
She said a bigger challenge as a representative would be “the frustration over inaction by Congress” on a host of issues.
Cammermeyer recently retired from the military and lives with her partner, Diane Divelbess, in a home they built on Whidbey Island. A native of Norway, Cammermeyer has lived in Washington for nearly 30 years and retired as chief nurse of the guard.
The decorated Vietnam veteran was fired in 1992 after disclosing her sexual orientation in a 1989 interview for a top-secret security clearance. A federal judge later ordered her reinstatement and the government did not appeal.
Her battle resulted in a best-selling book and a made-for-TV movie starring Glenn Close.
Metcalf, 69, has won twice in the nominally Democratic district. Before that, he spent years in the state Legislature. He is a retired history teacher, and he and his wife operate a bed-and-breakfast inn on Whidbey Island.
Efforts to reach him through his congressional office were unsuccessful Friday night.
Metcalf has said he considers Cammermeyer “a substantive candidate” and will take her seriously if she wins the nomination next year.
“In my opinion, she is a very good speaker and has a very good mind,” he said.