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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

17 challengers file to run against Murray for U.S. Senate seat

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., speaks at an event outside the Capitol on Oct. 21, 2021, in support of provisions in the Democrats’ social spending plan that would reduce costs for parents and caregivers and bolster the “care economy.”  (Orion Donovan Smith / The Spokesman-Review)

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray will face 17 candidates in the Aug. 2 primary.

Washington’s primary ballot is set after last week’s filing deadline. Murray’s senate seat along with a number of local and statewide races will be on the ballot. The top two from each race will move on to the Nov. 8 general election.

With high inflation and an ongoing pandemic, Democrats face a challenging midterm election, as a number of Republicans try to make up ground lost in 2020.

In Washington’s Senate race, Murray faces five Republicans, four independents, six Democrats, one socialist workers candidate and one candidate with no preference.

The candidate Murray will most likely face in November’s general election is Republican Tiffany Smiley, a political newcomer from Pasco.

In 2005, Smiley’s husband, Scott Smiley, was blinded in a suicide bombing in Iraq. Smiley advocated for her husband, refusing to sign his U.S. Army discharge papers, according to her campaign site. She left her job as a nurse to care for him as he became the nation’s first blind active-duty Army officer. Smiley and her husband have continued to advocate for better treatment for veterans, according to her campaign site.

Murray was first elected to the Senate in 1992 and is now the third-ranking Democrat, chairing the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and sitting on the Appropriations Committee.

So far, Murray has raised almost $11.7 million for her campaign while Smiley has raised closer to $4.2 million.

Smiley has received endorsements from prominent Republicans, including former U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley, New York Congresswoman Elise Stefanik and state Rep. Jacqueline Maycumber. She also received an endorsement from NBA Hall of Famer and Spokane native John Stockton.

Other candidates challenging Murray have raised significantly less money, according to the Federal Election Commission.

The third most funded campaign is for Democrat Nicolaus Sleister, who has raised more than $14,000. Sleister announced on Twitter last week he was dropping out of the race for U.S. Senate and did not end up filing.

Other candidates who filed to unseat Murray include John Guenther, a Spokane Republican; Leon Lawson, a Shelton resident running as a “Trump Republican”; Dave Saulibio, a Spokane resident running as a “JFK Republican”; and Pano Churchill, a Democrat who has run against Murray in the past and whose website says he is part of the Lincoln Party, a “centrist and unaligned party in the country.”

A number of other people who filed this year have run against Murray before. Those include Democrats Mohammad Hassan Said, Thor Amundson and Independent Charlie Jackson.

The primary takes place Aug. 2 but ballots will be sent out by July 15 to give voters the required 18-day period.

For more information on this year’s candidates and how to vote, visit

Laurel Demkovich'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.