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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

McMorris Rodgers hesitant on Trump; Senate challenger Vance says no way

By Jim Camden and Kip Hill The Spokesman-Review

Count Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers among the Republican lawmakers who are hesitant about Donald Trump as the presumptive GOP presidential nominee.

“Before I endorse him, I would like to have a conversation with him,” the fourth-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives said Thursday in an interview in Spokane. “I would like to ask him questions about some of the statements he’s made.”

McMorris Rodgers said some of those questions would be about Trump’s statements regarding women, words she called “hurtful” and “inappropriate” in an interview with the New York Times in March. But she credited the Republican front-runner, and lone remaining GOP candidate in the race, with tapping into dissatisfaction with government and the current administration.

“I believe what Donald Trump represents is the sense that it cannot be status quo,” McMorris Rodgers said. “Things have to change. In that regard, I agree that things have to change.”

Her hesitancy to endorse Trump echoed comments of House Speaker Paul Ryan in a televised interview Thursday, hours after challengers Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich dropped from the field.

Also in Washington state Thursday, a prominent GOP hopeful said there was no way he’d back the presumptive nominee.

Chris Vance, a former state party chairman and likely Republican challenger to Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, held a news conference and posted a video on his website Thursday saying he’ll vote for Kasich in the May 24 primary. In November, he’ll either vote for a conservative third-party candidate, if one emerges, or leave the race blank on his general election ballot.

While calling likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Murray part of the “status quo” of gridlock and economic stagnation, Vance added, “Donald Trump is not the answer.”

The billionaire developer’s economic policies would drive the national debt higher, and his foreign policy is “naive and dangerous,” Vance said.

For months, Vance, who would be classified by many as a socially moderate, fiscally conservative Republican, avoided answering whether he’d support Trump as the nominee. Up until this week, he was able to argue the question was hypothetical. That changed after Tuesday’s Indiana primary, which Trump won handily and resulted in Kasich and Cruz dropping out.

Washington Democrats, who have been demanding that Vance address whether he would support Trump, argued the decision wasn’t credible. Party spokesman Jamal Raad noted Vance wrote in a Facebook post last December that Republicans should unite behind the nominee.

Vance is one of six candidates who filed with the Federal Elections Commission to run against Murray, who is seeking her fifth term in the Senate. But he’s the only one listing significant contributions. As of the end of March, Vance reported raising $200,000, compared to $6.7 million for Murray.

McMorris Rodgers, who spoke about Trump after meeting with Spokane County commissioners on Thursday, faces a handful of challengers for the House of Representatives seat she’s held since 2005. As of the end of March, McMorris Rodgers holds a commanding lead in fundraising, reporting receipts of $1.8 million this election cycle to the Federal Election Commission.

Independent candidate Dave Wilson reports receipts of $109,291 through the end of March. Of that total, $92,500 has come out of Wilson’s own pocket. Democratic challenger Joe Pakootas has raised $95,136, and Republican Tom Horne has raised $2,415.