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Merritt withdraws from 27th District House race

Post by Lewis Kamb / The News Tribune on March 26, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
March 26, 2012 1:29 pm

Citing a need to focus on his work and family, Tacoma architect Jim Merritt said today he’s withdrawing from the race for the 27th Legislative District’s open state House seat.

Jim Merritt

“Architectural work is still very tenuous in this economy,” Merritt said during a phone call this morning. ” If I put the kind of attention that’s needed on a campaign right now … that would be sacrificial to my work. ”

Merritt launched a well-attended campaign kick-off just last week.  But while assessing the state of his campaign afterward, Merritt realized he didn’t have strong support among local Democratic office holders or influential party officials.

“The one thing that I am most taken aback by is really how lock-step the elected and retired elected officials are,” Merritt said.  “And that is sad. After 30 years of volunteering with them and supporting them, you think you’re on the same team. But this has been quite a revelation time for me.”

Merritt had been vying for the House seat being vacated by Rep. Jeannie Darneille, who’s running for the state Senate.  The House race also has drawn two second-term Tacoma City Council members: Jake Fey and Lauren Walker.

State campaign finance records also show Merritt was badly trailing Walker and Fey for early campaign dollars.  Walker has raised more than $28,000 with Fey garnering nearly $19,000.  Meantime, Merritt has reported just over $3,000 in contributions — with $1,000 of that coming from Merritt’s loan to his own campaign.

Other than an endorsement from former state Senator and Pierce County Executive Joe Stortini,  Merritt said he “did not have the backing of (any current or former elected officials).”

“That’s not a good feeling,” he added.  “It’s unfortunate that our community wants to keep its circle of elected officials pretty tight and doesn’t welcome those with outside perspectives.”

Merritt, who lost a close contest for Tacoma mayor against Marilyn Strickland in 2009, took on $10,000 of personal debt in that race.  Afterward, as the economy remained dour and development slowed, Merritt later closed his downtown architectural office in the Swiss Hall.

“The main issue is, I need to take care of my clients and the people working with me and supporting me, and I need to take care of my family,” Merritt said today.

“I am not going away,” he added. “I’ll be around. I just feel the best thing that I could do right now is pay attention to what I do best, which is to be the best architect and facilitator I can be.”

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