When the popular Spokane County sheriff, a Republican, called on the local GOP to censure state Rep. Matt Shea, it seemed like an opening was created for a serious challenge to Shea’s re-election bid.
But Shea’s challenger, Scott Stucker, is a political newbie and Bernie Sanders Democrat with no campaign experience and few things to say, other than that he’s running to give voters in the 4th District a choice.
Stucker’s top priority is universal health care and ridding politics of corporate money.
Shea is an ultra-conservative Republican and leader in the fringe American Redoubt movement who’s running on a platform he describes as “pro-jobs, pro-family, pro-guns and pro-life.”
Neither candidate has run an aggressive campaign.
Shea has yard signs up in the district, but refuses interviews with The Spokesman-Review and has not participated in any public debates.
Stucker said he does not believe in yard signs but did give an interview last month. His one piece of campaign material is a bookmark, and his website is bare, saying simply that he’s running to give people a choice.
Stucker has not participated in any public debates or held any rallies, but said he plans to do some door-belling.
When asked about his chances of winning with so little campaigning, Stucker said, “Well, at least people have an option to vote for someone other than Matt Shea.”
What Shea lacks in public campaigning he makes up for in fundraising. He has raised nearly $100,000 and among his top donors are industrial giants Monsanto, BNSF Railway and Weyerhaeuser, many PACs and the Washington Association of Realtors.
Shea is endorsed by the majority of the Spokane Valley City Council – Mayor Rod Higgins, Deputy Mayor Arne Woodard and Councilmen Sam Wood and Ed Pace. He gets an A+ rating by the National Rifle Association as well as an “outstanding” rating by the Citizens’ Alliance for Property Rights.
Stucker has raised less then $1,000 and has no endorsements.
Spokane County Democratic Chairman Jim CastroLang said Stucker was unknown to the party until he filed for election.
“He’s a good-hearted person who wanted to challenge Shea,” CastroLang said. “Perhaps he didn’t know exactly what he was getting into.”
CastroLang said Stucker believes in “a new kind of politics that’s not just responsive to the people at the top” and that there are many experienced local Democrats who are ready to back him up if he wins.
“I hope voters ask themselves if Shea really represents the district,” CastroLang said, “or if it’s time to say enough is enough.”
When Shea accused Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich of covering up a deputy’s alleged connection to a triple homicide and arson last year, Knezovich called on the Spokane County Republican Party to censure Shea. The party declined to do so.
Elected Republicans refused to comment on the Shea-Knezovich dispute. In return, Knezovich said he’d pull his endorsement of any Republican who was endorsing Shea.
Knezovich used to endorse Shea but said he regrets doing so because of the many unsubstantiated attacks Shea launched against the Sheriff’s Office.
Spokane Valley is the biggest city in the 4th District and Councilman Pace is one of Shea’s supporters.
“I think people should re-elect him because he is one of us,” Pace said, alluding to the majority on the City Council. “We used Shea’s slogan ‘lower taxes, less government, more freedom’ when we ran for City Council.”
Pace said Shea has a good record of working with both sides of the aisle and getting legislation passed.
“People here see Shea as somewhat divisive but he does get a lot of stuff done,” Pace said.
He added that Shea works well with state Sen. Mike Padden and Rep. Bob McCaslin Jr., both of whom are running unopposed.
“And I have a good working relationship with him,” Pace said. “So does the whole City Council.”
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