BELLEVUE, Wash. – Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike McGavick’s tenure as the chief executive of the Safeco Corp. insurance company shows that he would make a tough leader in Washington, D.C., first lady Laura Bush told 500 people at a fundraiser Wednesday.
“Mike brings to the Senate the principles of efficiency and accountability that have defined his successful business career,” she said. “He’ll ensure that Washington state tax dollars are spent wisely and responsibly.”
McGavick is expected to easily win the GOP nomination to challenge Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell in her first re-election bid. He headed Safeco from 2001 until late last year. Democrats have criticized the $28 million he received upon leaving the company, where he laid off about 1,700 workers.
McGavick has said the layoffs were necessary to turn Safeco around.
Wednesday’s fundraiser at the Westin hotel cost $250 per plate – or $2,500 including a photo with the first lady.
Among those in attendance were former Republican Sen. Slade Gorton, whom McGavick served as Senate staff director; 2004 GOP gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi; and freshman Republican Rep. Dave Reichert, who is facing a re-election challenge of his own from Democrat Darcy Burner.
McGavick told the crowd he would help end the mean-spiritedness of politics in the nation’s capital. Laura Bush also praised his support for tax cuts, a presidential line-item veto – which she said would help eliminate wasteful spending – early childhood literacy and the military.
The first lady made her remarks before heading to Kennewick in south-central Washington, where she spoke to 400 people at a Wednesday afternoon fundraising luncheon for McGavick. She then traveled to Belgrade, Mont., to campaign for U.S. Sen. Conrad Burns, who is seeking a fourth term.
Heavy hitters such as Vice President Dick Cheney, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and North Carolina Sen. Elizabeth Dole have been in the state recently to help Burns, who is in a tight campaign battle with Democrat Jon Tester.