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Monday, December 9, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Craswell Has Higher Calling For Government Gop Governor Candidate Puts God In Her Campaign

By Lynda V. Mapes Staff writer

Ellen Craswell is the only candidate for governor of Washington with God posted at the top of her campaign’s organizational chart.

God’s at the center of the campaign, too, and of Craswell’s life.

Craswell is a Christian first, a Republican second. She wants to put government back in line with “God’s plan.”

At a time when most statewide campaigns are won with fat campaign contributions, sophisticated polling and costly TV advertising, Craswell shuns all three.

What she lacks in money Craswell hopes to make up for with grass-roots support and help from above. Her campaign claims an army of more than 11,500 volunteers. Even God is enlisted in the effort through a statewide network of campaign prayer captains.

Craswell’s campaign has brought so many people into the political arena for the first time, campaign workers joke that inexperience is a job requirement.

Every inch of her campaign feels different, from Craswell’s no-nonsense answers to her Christian message and otherworldly bearing. While most candidates are frenetic, the 64-year-old Craswell has a serenity that sets her apart.

It’s as if she is being carried on a tide of support rather than pulling like crazy on the oars of the campaign.

At her campaign office in Poulsbo, fresh-scrubbed young people in conservative business dress sit at computers with screen-savers that quote Scripture.

The office is immaculate, the walls adorned with portraits of the Founding Fathers, the Ten Commandments and biblical quotations including, “When the righteous are in the authority, the people will rejoice.”

The campaign shuts down on Sundays, and only Christians are eligible for top campaign jobs. “That rises from Scripture, ‘Walk not in the counsel of the ungodly,”’ Craswell explained.

Her Poulsbo home is reached by way of a driveway under an arch painted with the command “Thou Shalt Love the Lord Thy God.”

No wonder: Craswell credits God with saving her from ovarian cancer. She endured a year of chemotherapy and surgery in 1982 and says she is free of the disease.

Craswell was the first to jump into the governor’s race, declaring her candidacy in November 1994. Her husband of 42 years, Bruce, is a retired dentist who has put more than 41,000 miles on the family car since January driving her to campaign events.

She was dismissed at first by many political observers as too far right. Now, she’s regarded as one of the most likely GOP candidates to win the crowded primary because of her passionate grass-roots following.

The big question is whether Craswell could win a head-to-head general-election contest with her message of drastically whacking government and returning to what she calls the principles of the Founding Fathers. In her view, that means limited government - that the most effective government is the one closest to the people and that only a moral people will remain free.

Even some Christian conservatives say they wish Craswell would step aside.

“As a Christian, I believe that, like John the Baptist, she has been preparing the way,” said Charlotte Karling, chairman of the Spokane County Republican Central Committee.

“I think she’s done a great job. Now, she needs to let go and turn it over to someone who can lead. I don’t think she can win the election.”

But others root for her with, well, religious fervor. Penny Lancaster of Spokane is a classic Craswell supporter: She believes in Craswell with all her heart and is putting her commitment into action.

Lancaster rang doorbells in her Spokane Valley precinct for the candidate and invited everyone she contacted to her home a week later for a screening of Craswell’s campaign video.

Lancaster has led community efforts against pornography as head of a group called the Coalition for Better Community Standards. She puts moral values at the top of her list of what she’s looking for in a candidate.

“I’m supporting her (Craswell) for her integrity, her character and her experience,” she said.

Craswell agrees she’s not for people who want a governor who’s a little more conservative. She promises radical change.

She’s not kidding.

While other candidates talk about rolling back taxes, Craswell’s goal, if it’s affordable, is to eliminate the business and occupation tax, the state share of the property tax and the motor vehicle excise tax.

Those tax cuts, taken together, would reduce projected total state general fund revenues by 37 percent, or $7.1 billion, in the 1997-99 biennium, according to the most recent state revenue forecast.

Cutting that deep also would reduce money passed on to communities for police, fire, transit and public health programs by more than $450 million.

Craswell says she would cut government back to fit greatly reduced spending.

At a recent campaign stop, she spelled out her ideas to the Tacoma chapter of Women’s Aglow International, a Christian fellowship group.

In the Glory Room, a meeting room at Dightman’s Bible Store, group leaders laid their hands on Craswell, blessed her and thanked God for her candidacy.

Then Craswell took the podium and told the group of about 50 women: “I often don’t know where I’m going. I just know I’m called to do this. I’ve been on a path the whole time. God has a plan for me and God has a plan for government and it’s all spelled out in the Bible.

“I didn’t have to weigh it all and figure it out.”

Christians are particularly at fault for the mess society is in, Craswell argued.

“As individuals and a nation, if we follow God’s way, he will bless us. If we turn from God’s way, there will be consequences. … We have moved further and further from God’s principles. No wonder there are so many problems.

“We are the ones saying politics and religion don’t mix. We have gone a long way down the wrong road.”

She concluded: “We’ve been wishy-washy Christians too long, and it’s time to get off the fence and take a stand for the Lord Jesus Christ.”

The room burst into applause.

Craswell said she would never push her religious beliefs on anyone. “I’m not saying Christians have to run everything or that I’m trying to run a theocracy, but Christians need a place at the table.”

But, if elected, Craswell said she would legislate her view of Christian morality, in which homosexuality is “an abomination to the Lord.”

Craswell favors outlawing gay marriage and forbidding gay people from adopting children or becoming foster parents.

She also opposes civil-rights protection to outlaw discrimination against gay people. “If they keep it quiet and in the closet, they are not going to suffer discrimination,” she said.

As governor, Craswell said, she would explore phasing out the office of state superintendent of public instruction and the state Department of Labor and Industries and cutting back the state Department of Social and Health Services to “a shadow of its former self.”

Privatization and contracting out government services should be examined as an option for everything from routine custodial work to food services at community colleges, government purchasing, prison management and state liquor stores, Craswell said.

Ultimately, she’d like to phase out welfare but would start by limiting government benefits to two years.

Craswell would repeal the Growth Management Act - a sweeping set of state mandates for land use - and favors taxpayer compensation when property rights are limited by regulations. Voters rejected a similar proposal by a 60-40 statewide margin just last year.

Craswell opposes abortion for any reason except to save the life of the mother, but she backs capital punishment. “It’s innocent life we are to protect. But Scripture says when someone takes the life of another, then his life shall be taken.”

While courts have ruled abortion is legal, Craswell said she would push for new restrictions, such as requiring parental consent for abortions performed on minors.

Craswell served in the Legislature 16 years. There, she pursued many of the same issues without success, from offering reduced sentences to sex offenders if they agree to be castrated to eliminating the state’s no-fault divorce laws.

She lost her Senate seat in a 1992 Democratic sweep.

Craswell said she believes the political pendulum has swung back her way. She expects her campaign to appeal to voters of all kinds: believers and non-believers, Republicans and Democrats.

“There is something out there that’s crossing party lines. These are changing times. I used to feel anyone who talked about these issues or their religion was unelectable.”

Not anymore.

“I haven’t found anyone not concerned about the lack of moral values. What we are talking about is: Don’t lie, don’t cheat, don’t steal, don’t go out and kill your neighbor. The problems of crime and family issues are non-partisan.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 2 photos (1 color)

MEMO: Profiles of six Washington gubernatorial candidates begin in today’s Spokesman-Review with Republican hopeful Ellen Craswell. Craswell will be followed by: Wednesday - Dale Foreman Thursday - Gary Locke Friday - Norm Maleng Saturday - Norm Rice Sunday - Jim Waldo, other candidates.

This sidebar appeared with the story: ELLEN CRASWELL Resume: Age: 64 … Attended the University of Washington … Former medical technologist … Served in Washington state House, 1977-80; Washington state Senate, 1981-1992 … Publisher of Family in Touch, a religious conservative newsletter, since 1986 … Executive board member of IMPAC, a religious conservative political action committee, since 1987 … Born and raised near current home in Poulsbo, Wash. … Married with four grown children. Finances: $29,817 on hand as of Aug. 27, the most recent campaign filing period. Most donations have been small contributions. Why she’s running: “I am running because I think government is too big, too expensive and too intrusive, without enough emphasis on moral values, rights and freedoms.” What she’d do first: “Make major cuts in tax rates and intrusive government rules and regulations.”

Profiles of six Washington gubernatorial candidates begin in today’s Spokesman-Review with Republican hopeful Ellen Craswell. Craswell will be followed by: Wednesday - Dale Foreman Thursday - Gary Locke Friday - Norm Maleng Saturday - Norm Rice Sunday - Jim Waldo, other candidates.

This sidebar appeared with the story: ELLEN CRASWELL Resume: Age: 64 … Attended the University of Washington … Former medical technologist … Served in Washington state House, 1977-80; Washington state Senate, 1981-1992 … Publisher of Family in Touch, a religious conservative newsletter, since 1986 … Executive board member of IMPAC, a religious conservative political action committee, since 1987 … Born and raised near current home in Poulsbo, Wash. … Married with four grown children. Finances: $29,817 on hand as of Aug. 27, the most recent campaign filing period. Most donations have been small contributions. Why she’s running: “I am running because I think government is too big, too expensive and too intrusive, without enough emphasis on moral values, rights and freedoms.” What she’d do first: “Make major cuts in tax rates and intrusive government rules and regulations.”

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