Two newcomers to politics say it’s time for a change in the state House seat held by veteran Democrat Timm Ormsby.
But Ormsby, who has held the 3rd District position since 2003, points to his experience and says having spent most of his life in Spokane, he’s intimately knowledgeable of how the state can assist what is often labeled Washington’s poorest legislative district.
Ormsby, the business representative for the Northeastern Washington-Northern Idaho Building and Construction Trades Council, faces Morgan Oyler, who has worked as a counselor to at-risk youth, and Hector Martinet, a former clothes salesman.
The top two candidates in the Aug. 17 primary will move to the November election to battle it out for a two-year term. The job pays about $42,000 a year and comes with health benefits.
The district, which represents central Spokane, strongly tilts toward Democrats. Republican Oyler, however, has raised about $5,000 for the race and says he believes he’ll be competitive. All of Oyler’s contributions have come from California, including donations from his parents, according to the state Public Disclosure Commission. Ormsby has about $26,000 in his campaign account, including $800 donations from the Washington Education Association and the Service Employees International Union. Martinet has agreed not to raise more than $5,000 for his campaign.
Oyler is running as a Republican, but the county Republican Party has declined to endorse him. He said that’s likely because of his views on social issues like abortion and gay marriage. Oyler supports abortion rights. Although he said he wouldn’t vote to create gay marriage, Oyler said he backs the state’s current domestic partner law.
“There are elements of the party that want to use a culture war litmus test to define what a Republican is, and I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Oyler said.
Hector Martinet, 46, is running without a party label, but says he considers himself a “tea party Republican.”
Martinet has similar opinions on social issues: He said gays should be able to marry and that although he personally opposes abortion, he would back the Supreme Court’s rulings on the issue. (Ormsby also supports gay marriage and abortion rights.)
Both challengers have had run-ins with law enforcement.
Martinet was found guilty in 2003 of driving while intoxicated. He was sentenced to a year in jail with all but one day suspended and two years probation. In 1995, Martinet was sentenced to a year of probation on a negligent driving charge. In 2005, a jury exonerated Martinet of child rape charges after a 15-year-old girl accused him of raping her in his north Spokane home.
Oyler was charged with possession of marijuana in 2002 in Benton County. He was sentenced to a year in jail with all but 364 days suspended. Oyler said he was pulled over for a traffic violation and the officer noticed an unlit joint in his car.
“I was 19, and like a lot of people, I didn’t make the best decisions in my teenage years,” Oyler said. “I live a pretty boring, adult life these days.”