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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spin Control

U.S. Army, Foreign Service veteran joins Congressional race against McMorris Rodgers, Pakootas

David Kay announced Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016, he will run for U.S. Congress. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
David Kay announced Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016, he will run for U.S. Congress. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

At least two Democrats will challenge Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers in her bid for a sixth term representing Washington's Fifth Congressional District.

David Kay, 59, announced Tuesday his intentions to seek the seat McMorris Rodgers has held since 2005. He joins Joe Pakootas, who has ceaselessly campaigned for the Democratic nomination since losing to McMorris Rodgers with 40 percent of the vote in the November 2014 election.

Kay, a retired U.S. Army officer who attained the rank of physician's assistant and worked at the Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center before joining the Foreign Service, described himself as a moderate on social issues in an interview before his announcement last week. 

"I will not be liberal enough for some. I will not be conservative enough for others," said Kay, a North Carolina native who moved to Spokane in 2000 with his wife. "I'm running as a moderate Democrat. I hope I will be American enough for everybody." 

Kay signaled he would attack McMorris Rodgers, 46, as an entrenched politician, a technique that has been employed several times on the campaign trail against the Republican who serves as the fourth-ranking GOP member in the House of Representatives.

"I think the timing is right," Kay said. "I think the people in Eastern Washington can be better served. There's a lot of partisanship in the Congress, and a lot of political maneuvering that doesn't get a lot done."

Pakootas, 58, also painted McMorris Rodgers as an entrenched politician in his unsuccessful campaign against her in 2014. Kay said he hoped his background growing up in a working-class family, and his time served in the Army and then in Iraq as a member of the Foreign Service, helping in efforts to train the Iraqi security force, would resonate with voters around the district.

"I really want to try to give back," Kay said.

Susan Brudnicki, manager of the Pakootas campaign, said the chief executive of the Colville tribe had not stopped campaigning since November 2014. He's appeared at several events with the local Democratic Party this year and has the support of the regional party members, Brudnicki said.

"We're looking forward to bringing up the difference between Joe's experience and Dave's experience," she said. "The main difference is Joe was born and raised in Eastern Washington."

Both Pakootas and Kay will face a significant money battle with McMorris Rodgers. In her year-end report to the Federal Election Commission, the Republican reported $1.2 million in campaign contributions already for the 2016 campaign. Pakootas reported raising $16,800.

Kay said he realized the difficulty of the road to the nation's capital. 

"It's a daunting task," he said. "I will be a David, against a Goliath of a challenge."

Look for a full story on Kay's campaign announcement later this week in The Spokesman-Review.

Kip Hill
Kip Hill joined The Spokesman-Review in 2013. He currently is a reporter for the City Desk, covering the marijuana industry, local politics and breaking news. He previously hosted the newspaper's podcast.

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