Many candidates that lost in the Aug. 7 primary have gone on to endorse members of their own party – everyone from Democrat Rob Hill publicly backing Jay Inslee for governor to Republican Art Coday endorsing the GOP’s Michael Baumgartner for U.S. Senate. But in the newly drawn 2nd Legislative District that overlaps Thurston and Pierce counties, Republican primary loser James Vaughn is actually crossing party lines in the Senate race to endorse Democrat and fellow military vet Bruce Lachney.
Vaughn was sharply critical of GOP incumbent Sen. Randi Becker before the Aug. 7 primary and the ill feelings apparently are carrying over.
Becker edged Lachney in the primary by a mere five votes – with she and Lachney getting about 40.6 percent overall and Vaughn nearly 19 percent. Besides Vaughn’s dislike for the incumbent, he and Lachney also shared concerns about helping military veterans returning from Afghanistan, and both raised concerns about the state’s tax structure – both taking very different approaches but both suggesting changes to the business-occupations tax that hits small businesses.
What effect such post-primary endorsements have is always a question. But for Becker, it might be a sign of her challenges with independent voters in a district that typically favors Republicans. On the other hand, Vaughn did run for Congress a few years ago as a Democrat before switching parties.
Lachney, a cranberry grower and board trustee for the Clover Park Technical College, said he thinks Vaughn’s move helps him in the libertarian-leaning 2nd, which ranges from the outskirts of Lacey to include Yelm, Graham and Eatonville.
“There are a lot of people out there who may disagree with politics in general but respect Jim enough to look at him. Anytime you have somebody out there that gets 18 percent, you’ve got to take a look at what they are saying,’’ Lachney said today. “If you are an incumbent and you’re not getting near 50 percent of the vote, there is a reason and you should be concerned about it.’’
Lachney’s announcement of the endorsement is here, and Vaughn’s statement that rips Becker, a first-term senator from Eatonville, is here. In Becker’s defense, one of Vaughn’s claims about her action on an insurance reform bill is not quite accurate, as I outlined in this primary preview story that ran in July.
I asked Becker about the endorsement today when she and Lachney attended an editorial board meeting with The Olympian. She said “time will tell … I don’t know that it won’t.’’
In contrast to my colleague Jordan Schrader’s post about candidates that lost in the primary and now are endorsing the victorious candidate from their party, I have a blog post in the works for later today that tells how all four losers in the 10th Congressional District are withholding support for the Republican and Democratic finalists. But as Schrader noted in his piece, Republican gubernatorial candidate Shahram Hadian, who drew support from evangelical Christians, is asking backers for contributions to retire his debt, and he is not backing Rob McKenna, the Republican candidate for governor who will be on the Nov. 6 ballot.