2nd District race tough for ex-sheriff
Former Snohomish County sheriff Rick Bart is struggling to raise enough money to keep his campaign afloat in his race against U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen for the 2nd Congressional District seat.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Doug Schaffer, Democrat
Residence: Between Monroe and Snohomish
Education: Bachelor's degree, political science and journalism, the University of California, Berkeley; master's degree, public administration, California State University, Fullerton
Experience: Manager at California Department of Health and Human Services, 1971-1979; 14 years doing technology work for defense contractors; consultant since 1994
Web site: www.schafferforcongress.com
Rick Bart, Republican
Education: Associate degree, law enforcement, Shoreline Community College; bachelor's degree, criminal justice, Seattle University
Experience: Snohomish County sheriff, 1995-2007; Snohomish County sheriff's deputy, 1973-1995
Web site: www.electrickbart.com
Glen Johnson, Democrat
Residence: Skagit Valley
Education: Associate degree, agriculture, Skagit Valley College
Experience: Farmer for 40 years. Unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 2000 and for the state Legislature in 1996.
Web site: www.glenjohnsonforcongress.com
Rick Larsen, Democrat
Education: Bachelor's degree, political science, Pacific Lutheran University; master's degree, public affairs, University of Minnesota
Experience: Snohomish County Council, 1997-1999; U.S. House of Representatives, 2000-present
Web site: www.ricklarsen.org
When retired Naval officer Doug Roulstone ended his campaign against U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen earlier this year, state Republicans felt fortunate to recruit a well-known replacement with a string of election victories.
Rick Bart was such a political powerhouse during a dozen years as Snohomish County sheriff that he hadn't even drawn an opponent in 2003.
But after six months of campaigning, Bart is struggling in his run for the 2nd Congressional District, which includes parts of King and Snohomish counties and all of Skagit, San Juan, Island and Whatcom counties.
Bart has raised $31,000, but he's spent more than that, leaving him about $735 in the hole.
"That's an area that I think he will have to do better at," said Luke Esser, chairman of the State Republican Party. "He's trying hard. I know he's putting in the effort."
Esser pointed out that because of Bart's high profile, he may be able to do well without much money.
Two other challengers in the Aug. 19 primary race have raised no money, according to federal campaign-finance reports.
Meanwhile, Larsen has amassed more than $1 million in campaign contributions and has $600,000 in cash on hand. It's common for incumbents to raise more than their challengers, but Roulstone had received $130,000 by January, when he quit his campaign to focus on his business.
"Rick [Bart] is a very good friend of mine," said Roulstone, who also challenged Larsen in 2006 and got 36 percent of the vote. "I withdrew, and then he decided to throw his hat in the ring. I'm supporting him. I've endorsed him. I'm raising money for him."
But as Roulstone has refunded his campaign contributions over the past several months, it appears that few of his donors have heeded his suggestion that they give to Bart's campaign instead.
Reputation as sheriff
As sheriff, Bart was known for being outspoken and gregarious but loyal to his deputies.
As a member of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, he traveled to Washington, D.C., to lobby Congress, even working with Larsen on an earmark for some palm-print identification equipment. He took a leadership role in trying to curb methamphetamine use in Snohomish County, partnering with community groups.
His relationship with Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon was so antagonistic that Bart decided to run against Reardon in 2007. His campaign sputtered, though, and he ended up dropping out in March of that year after he fell $130,000 short of his $150,000 spring fundraising goal.
Bart blames personal problems, including his father's death, for his failed county-executive campaign.
As a Sedro-Woolley native and a graduate of Mountlake Terrace High School, he said his experience and moderate politics are well-suited to the 2nd District.
Bart thinks the federal government should "go on a diet" and cut its deficit. He supports drilling for oil in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge and favors a set timeline for troop withdrawal from Iraq.
Larsen touts his moderate politics, as well. He's focusing his campaign on issues he believes concern those in his district: agriculture, veterans services and trade, to name three.
"Over the last eight years, I think I've been able to reflect those needs in the district by working with our veterans, working with our local law enforcement, looking to help create jobs and transportation projects that can keep our economy moving," he said.
Larsen cites as a major accomplishment his work designating 106,000 acres of the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest as the Wild Sky Wilderness Area this spring.
2 other candidates
Two other candidates also are in the primary: Democrat Glen Johnson, a Conway-area farmer; and independent Doug Schaffer, who runs a management-consulting firm between Snohomish and Monroe.
The top two vote-getters among all four candidates will advance to the general election.
Johnson ran against Larsen in 2000 and got 1 percent of the vote. He has written a book outlining his views about food security and the nation's international reputation, and he's frustrated that Larsen and other members of Congress to whom he's given his book have not listened to his ideas.
Schaffer said he feels Congress is too partisan. He will appear on the ballot as a Democrat, but he says he is running as an independent.
He says his experience as a consultant would be valuable in the House of Representatives. Expediency is his area of expertise. Case in point: He hired his campaign manager via a free classified ad on Craigslist.org. Now he's advertising the same way for a fundraiser.
At first, Schaffer said, he didn't have any specific complaint about Larsen. That's changed.
"When I got into this, I wasn't sure whether he was weak or not. I was really running against Congress as a whole," he said. "But then, almost the instant that I registered as a candidate, I began getting phone calls and e-mails from people all over the district, many of them in his own party, who are very frustrated with him."
Bart, on the other hand, counts Larsen among his friends. At least, he said, "we were friends."
"Honestly, to run against a guy like Rick Larsen, who's been here for four terms... ," he said. "It's hard to represent 800,000 people in five counties and be successful at it, and I think he has been."
Emily Heffter: 206-464-8246 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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