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Originally published Saturday, April 11, 2009 at 9:32 AM

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Mason County's Tim Sheldon defends off-color remark

State Sen. Tim Sheldon of rural Potlatch, no stranger to public controversy, has stirred another pot with comments that people in his 35th district are well-armed and willing to shoot intruders.

The Olympian

State Sen. Tim Sheldon of rural Potlatch, no stranger to public controversy, has stirred another pot with comments that people in his 35th district are well-armed and willing to shoot intruders.

He repeated his reference to intruders getting a "hot lead enema" Friday morning in the wings of the Senate.

Sheldon, a Democrat, had told the Shelton-Mason County Journal weekly newspaper earlier this week that he thinks the county's well-armed residents can better withstand budget cuts to police services than residents in other counties.

"There is no bag limit," he told reporter Kevan Moore. "There's always an open season on criminals in Mason County... I think the Mason County citizens are very well aware of how to protect themselves in a situation that might need a response."

Sheriff Casey Salisbury told the Journal he found Sheldon's remark inappropriate, adding that he doesn't want to promote vigilantism.

Sheldon serves a dual role as an elected Mason County commissioner. He and two other county commissioners have favored cuts of more than $380,000 to the sheriff's office budget. The sheriff apparently has been chafing at the reductions.

Sheldon denied Friday that he is urging people to take the law into their own hands, and he claimed that news reports, including Seattle-area television accounts, already are "driving some criminals back to Pierce and King counties."

"Our sheriff thinks we're a magnet for crime, because we're a rural county. My point is our citizens are probably better armed than any other county. So the message is, don't attempt a home invasion in Mason County or you may get a hot Mason County lead enema," Sheldon said.

Sheldon insisted Friday that the sheriff's office has enough money to keep the community safe. He said the county is getting $77,000 in federal stimulus funds and could get other resources.

He also said he usually finds himself in the middle of a ruckus each session. Most years, it seems, it's his bucking of fellow Democrats on budget matters that gets him in trouble with his colleagues, some of whom question his loyalty to the party.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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