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Spokane basketball legend John Stockton endorses GOP candidate Tiffany Smiley in Senate race

Jan. 4, 2022 Updated Tue., Jan. 4, 2022 at 1:54 p.m.

John Stockton watches his daughter, Laura, play basketball for Gonzaga on March 2, 2019 at the McCarthey Athletic Center.  (TYLER TJOMSLAND/The Spokesman-Review)
John Stockton watches his daughter, Laura, play basketball for Gonzaga on March 2, 2019 at the McCarthey Athletic Center. (TYLER TJOMSLAND/The Spokesman-Review)

WASHINGTON – The Republican candidate vying to represent Washington in the Senate got a boost from an unusual source Monday: an endorsement from NBA Hall of Famer and Spokane native John Stockton.

Tiffany Smiley, a political newcomer from Pasco who is challenging Democratic Sen. Patty Murray for her Senate seat in this year’s election, said in a statement she was “honored” to have the support of Stockton, whom she called “a basketball legend and hero in our community.”

In a video released by the Smiley campaign, Stockton praised the first-time candidate for her honesty and work ethic.

“I just think there’s no other possibility out there but Tiffany,” Stockton said. “She’s a political outsider and I don’t think she’ll ever let us down.”

Smiley’s campaign is emphasizing her work advocating for her husband Scotty Smiley, an Army major who was blinded in a suicide bombing in Iraq in 2005 and went on to become the nation’s first blind active-duty Army officer. When her husband was in the hospital after the attack, according to her campaign website, Tiffany Smiley refused to sign his discharge papers. She left her job as a nurse to care for him and the couple went on to advocate for better treatment for veterans.

A GOP candidate faces an uphill battle in a heavily Democratic-leaning state. Murray, a 29-year Senate veteran, defeated Republican Chris Vance with 59% of the vote in her last election in 2016.

Stockton has not previously made political endorsements, but the low-profile Spokane resident entered the public eye last year when he appeared in a documentary that sought to cast doubt on the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines, testing, mask-wearing and other public health measures.

In a trailer for the film, titled “Covid and the Vaccine: Truth Lies, and Misconceptions Revealed,” Stockton appears alongside several prominent anti-vaccine figures and implies that restrictions to limit the spread of the virus are unfounded.

In an email, Smiley campaign spokesman Matt Beynon said the candidate supports the use of vaccines while opposing government vaccine mandates.

Smiley and Murray will face off in Washington’s Aug. 2 primary election, whose top two vote-getters will proceed to the Nov. 8 general election.

Orion Donovan-Smith's reporting for The Spokesman-Review is funded in part by Report for America and by members of the Spokane community. This story can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper’s managing editor.

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