Kitsap GOP refining its message

U.S. Senatorial Candidate Mike McGavick visited Kitsap County on Wednesday, kicking off his campaign while giving local candidates an extra boost and a pep talk for their upcoming races.

“Kitsap is unique because it has large groups of active military and veterans,” McGavick said before his remarks. “Each group has its own economic needs, and it’s important that we build the businesses to support them.”

About 60 people — party members, candidates, supporters and guests — attended the noon event. There was no food served, nor was there a formal agenda. Instead, the discussion centered around how to get the party’s message across to the general public.

“The miracle is that each of us believes we can change the world,” McGavick said. “Isn’t that cool?”

McGavick, who is challenging incumbent Democrat Maria Cantwell, addressed several topics, receiving a vocal call-and-response assent reminiscent of a revival meeting.

He presented his own vision of “kitchen table” government, in which people address a problem together rather than from a partisan viewpoint. This strategy impressed attendee Catherine Simpson, who said she was disenchanted with the actions of the Democratic Party.

Attendees included the two Republican county commissioners, Jan Angel and Patty Lent, along with Jack Hamilton of Silverdale, who plans to challenge Lent in the September primary.

Also attending was former Kitsap BlueJackets Chief Operating Officer Steve Stagner, who plans to challenge Kitsap County Auditor Karen Flynn.

Of all elected county officials, only Assessor Jim Avery and Coroner Greg Sandstrom are Republicans.

Flynn, Treasurer Barbara Stephenson, Clerk Dave Peterson, Sheriff Steve Boyer and Prosecutor Russ Hauge are Democrats.

Hamilton said not all should expect challenges. “Some positions rely on technical skill and have good people,” he said, “so it’s not in our interest to field an opponent just for partisan purposes.”

Added Kitsap GOP chairman Matt Cleverly, “Those positions not involved in making policy are lower on our radar screen.”

Aside from the auditor, the treasurer and prosecuting attorney are the most policy-oriented positions, according to Cleverly.

Stagner said he was approached by the Republicans and decided to run because, “It was time for me to give back and put some of my knowledge and experience into the public sector.

“It is important that the auditor report regularly to the people about how the money is being spent,” he said. “The office needs to provide reports about the financial condition of the county. This is something that the current administration does not do at all.”

Stagner also favors strengthening voting security, which he believes has been compromised in favor of convenience.

Flynn is running for her sixth term and doesn’t expect opposition within her own party. Hauge is up for his fourth term and is similarly well-ensconced.

Still, the Republicans feel Hauge is vulnerable. Cleverly said the party is still recruiting candidates.

“He will be very hard to beat,” said Port Orchard attorney Bruce Danielson. “But it won’t be so hard if we can get people to look at his record. There are many issues that the Prosecutor’s Office has not addressed or avoided.”

Danielson said Hauge hasn’t been aggressive enough in charging certain crimes.

“Many prosecutors start tough and then negotiate,” Danielson said. “Kitsap County tends to do the opposite.”

Danielson, who challenged Superior Court Judge Anna Laurie in 2004, declined to comment as to whether he would himself challenge Hauge.

Cleverly said he will promote his party’s message for people who don’t want to “wear the party label” or feel their property rights are threatened. He avoids the controversy over abortion, saying it is not a party concern at the local level, and stresses the importance of individual decisions.

“Some people would be scared if they knew how moderate I am,” he said.

NEXT WEEK: The Democrats

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