Early results show voters in the 4th Legislative District still support Republicans who have aligned themselves with controversial state Rep. Matt Shea over moderate challengers.
Democrat Lance Gurel and Republican Rob Chase, who was endorsed by Shea, will likely move forward in the primary if the current voter trend continues. Gurel had almost 39% of votes Tuesday night and Chase came in second with almost 32% of votes. Leonard Christian, a real estate agent and moderate Republican who promoted himself as a “reasonable conservative,” came in third with 24% of the vote. Nathan Sybrandy, a Republican, nurse and first-time candidate came in last with about 5% of the vote.
Shea, a Republican lawmaker who was first elected in the district in 2008, was expelled from the House Republican caucus in December of last year after an independent investigation found the legislator’s role in the armed takeover of an Oregon wildlife refuge in 2016 amounted to “an act of domestic terrorism against the United States.” Bob McCaslin Jr. and Chase have continued to support Shea, and have been endorsed by him in return, while others in the Republican Party, such as Christian, have spoken out against him.
In an interview last month, Chase said he planned to pursue similar ideas to Shea, such as dividing Washington into two states Eastern Washington its own state, but said he likely would not have gone to the Oregon wildlife refuge, or poured olive oil on the state capitol steps, for which Shea was billed for the cleanup earlier this year. He also argued opening the economy during the pandemic was the only way to fix the state’s ailing budget, and compared COVID-19 to the flu.
Gurel, an accountant and the lone Democrat in the race unsuccessfully ran for Spokane Valley City Council last year, and has spoken out against making Eastern Washington its own state, and other ideas pushed by Shea. He argued that candidates like Chase want to make government too small to be effective and said he would protect services that are essential for families during a financial crisis.
In the race for Shea’s former seat, Democrat and nurse practitioner Lori Feagan came in first with 40% of vote and McCaslin came in second with 36%. The two other Republicans in the race took much smaller percentages, with Mike Conrad, taking almost 16% of votes and Dave Whitehead taking about 8% of votes.
Feagan has served as a precinct committee officer and hopes to focus on rural health care making sure families are prepared to return to school if she’s elected.
McCaslin has been a state representative since he was elected in 2014 and previously worked as an elementary school teacher. McCaslin voted against the comprehensive sex education bill the state legislature approved this year
Sen. Mike Padden took 57% of the vote in his race for re-election, a significant early lead over former County Commissioner John Roskelley, who had 38% of votes. Independent Ann Marie Danimus took about 6% of votes.
Padden, a Republican and a retired judge, has represented the 4th District in both the Senate and the House, representing the area in the 1980s and early 1990s and returning to state politics again in 2011. Padden has focused on criminal justice issues, most recently sponsoring a bill to compensate parents of crime victims as they seek services for their children and previously championed an investigation in the Washington State Department of Corrections for its handling of an error that led to several prisoners being released early and committing violent crimes.
Roskelley, a Democrat, was a Spokane County commissioner from 1995 to 2004, resigning to join the state’s Growth Management Board. He is an avid mountaineer, has worked as a photographer and an educator on the environment and climbing.
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