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Local campaigns turn up heat as election nears

With the election just weeks away, the two 26th District races for the state House of Representatives feel as if they have just begun.

Multiple candidate forums remain, doorbelling efforts are renewed with vigor and candidates often spend hundreds on advertising; 26th District candidates barely have time to reflect.

At tomorrow’s forum moderated by the League of Women Voters, candidates will once again face off.

Only one will win each race, but candidates remain confident as Nov. 2 draws nearer.

“We’re thrilled with how things are going,” said House Democratic candidate Derek Kilmer, who is running against Republican Lois McMahan. “We had a great performance in the primary election. More importantly, as I’m out talking to voters or at candidate forums, the response is very, very positive. The general message that I hear from people is that they’re excited to hear a candidate talking about issues that are important to them.”

Kilmer credits campaign volunteers for his continued success in getting his message to voters in the District.

“Especially following the primary, we have a pretty dramatic influx of volunteers,” Kilmer reported. “People are pretty excited about our campaign and our message.”

Kilmer was named Business Professional of the Year Saturday night by the Gig Harbor Chamber of Commerce, but the award did not come as a shock to Kilmer’s opponent, state Representative Lois McMahan.

McMahan was also at the awards dinner and was nominated for Citizen of the Year.

“Right now, there are a couple of people on the board there at the chamber that are very favorable towards Derek,” McMahan said, and she, too, insists her campaign is solid.

“We feel things are going really well,” McMahan said. “I’m just crazy busy.”

McMahan said her campaign is shifting into high gear with advertising and continuous contact with her current constituents.

“We’re going to be having ads in the papers and I’m still doorbelling every day.”

For all their differences, Kilmer and McMahan have one thing in common — a love of doorbelling.

“I enjoy being busy, and I especially love doorbelling because it gives me an opportunity to meet people face to face and hear their concerns,” McMahan said, “but I’m looking forward to having a bit of a breather after the election.”

“As far as I know, what remains is another four or five candidate forums,” Kilmer said. “I am knocking on doors every day. It’s hard to explain. It is a daily reminder of why (people run for office).”

In the race for the first House position, Republican Matt Rice, who is running against current Democratic Representative Pat Lantz, said the district voters he has reached out to continue to support his issues.

“The campaign is going exceptionally well,” Rice reported. “The doorbelling indicates the issues I’m addressing are very important to the district.”

Rice cites rising healthcare cost and availability, and medical tort reform as some of the most important issues.

“The healthcare issue is incredibly important to the District,” Rice said.

Lantz was unavailable for comment.

Libertarian candidate Ted Haley, who is also running against Rice and Lantz, is also upbeat and actively campaigning.

“We’re very busy,” Rice concluded.

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