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Coppola eyes run for state Senate

Manchester resident Lary Coppola, 54, announced on Friday his intention to run for the 26th District seat in the Washington State Senate.

Coppola filed papers with the state Public Disclosure Commission last week. He said he intends to run as a Democrat.

Coppola would replace Sen. Bob Oke (R-Port Orchard) in the state Legislature.

Oke was unavailable for comment and has not announced whether he will run again as he continues to battle multiple myeloma, a rare, incurable cancer that weakens the bones.

Coppola said he is concerned with the unfairness of the gas tax for Peninsula residents.

“If I-912 passes and repeals the gas tax,” Coppola said, “legislators need to go back to Olympia and get this right. Here on the Peninsula our only choices are being taxed on gas in addition to paying outrageous tolls on the new Narrows Bridge, or being gouged by the ferry system. What’s wrong with this picture?”

Coppola said he will advocate tolling the Alaskan Way Viaduct and the 520 Bridge at the same level as the Narrows, while reallocating any future new gas tax revenues so the Narrows Bridge receives the same percentage of state funding as those projects.

Coppola is president of Wet Apple Media in Port Orchard, a company he founded in 1979, and publisher of the Kitsap Peninsula Business Journal.

He is also a member of the Kitsap County Planning Commission, serving as its chairman in 2003; chairman of the South Kitsap Citizen’s Advisory Group for the sub-area planning process; chairman of the Kitsap Economic Development Council; immediate past president of Port Orchard Rotary; a state director of the Building Industry Association of Washington; and a member of the Association of Washington Business.

He also serves on the board of the Homebuilders Association of Kitsap County; is a member of the Board of Governors of the Columbia Tower Club in Seattle; a member of the Motor Press Guild; and treasurer and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association.

“It is my sincere belief that someone with a moderate, centrist view on issues, and some basic common sense, can go to Olympia and actually make a difference,” he said. “I feel the voters will see it that way as well.”

With Coppola’s announcement that he will run as a Democrat comes a smattering of whispers as to who his Republican challenger will be.

Gig Harbor resident Dr. Matt Rice, a former candidate for Rep. Pat Lantz’s seat in the last election and friend of Oke’s said he will only run against Coppola if all signs point to “yes.”

“I’m going to make sure that what’s right for Bob happens,” Rice said. “If he decides to run, I will certainly support his decision. If he decides not to run, I will continue to work with the party to determine which candidate is best for the position. If the party believes that candidate is me, I’ll run.”

Former Rep. Lois McMahan has made it clear that she will run for the Senate seat in 2006, regardless of party politics.

Rice said he would run against McMahan in the primary if he thought he was the better candidate.

“Last year, even before (Oke) found out he had cancer, he told me he was not planning to run for re-election,” said McMahan, an Olalla resident. “I’m in the race.”

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