Tharinger war chest 15 times greater than opponent’s; Greisamer says he can win

By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News

Republican Thomas Greisamer believes he can achieve victory in the Nov. 4 general election over 24th District state Rep. Steve Tharinger despite the incumbent’s name recognition and distinct advantage in campaign contributions.

Tharinger, 65, a Sequim Democrat, was the top vote-getter in the primary election Tuesday.

Greisamer, 73, a psychiatrist, also advanced to the general election ballot, while Libertarian Stafford Conway, 42, a Sequim neurologist, was eliminated from the race.

Tharinger, seeking his third term, had raised $52,843 and spent $957, according to financial statements filed as of Friday with the state Public Disclosure Commission (PDC).

That’s more than 15 times the amount reportedly raised by Greisamer.

Greisamer had not filed statements on contributions and expenditures with the PDC as of Friday. He had raised about $3,500 and spent between $2,400 and $2,800, mostly on signs, said Bruce Daniels, a Greisamer campaign aide.

Of Greisamer’s total, about $3,200 came out of his own pocket as contributions to his campaign, Daniels said.

The 24th District includes Clallam and Jefferson counties and the northern third of Grays Harbor County.

The district’s other state House of Representatives member, Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim, faces no opposition.

As of the Friday count, Tharinger had won 19,895 votes, or 58 percent, to Greisamer’s 12,308 votes, or 35 percent. Conway had 2,644 votes, or 8 percent.

About a third of the district’s roughly 90,000 voters cast ballots.

With Conway out of the race, Greisamer is hoping for some momentum.

“People pretty much know where I stand, and I am hoping with my overall 35 percent — along with hopefully votes from the Libertarian candidate, who finished third — that I am within striking distance,” said Greisamer, who has never sought or held elected public office.

Those votes won’t include Conway’s, Conway said Friday.

“I don’t feel Republicans represent the people in a nonpartisan way,” he said, adding he sees no difference between the Republican and Democratic parties.

“Quite frankly, they are the same party, with just a different mascot.”

Tharinger, a former Clallam County commissioner, shrugged off the notion of money as an overriding factor in the election.

“Money is part of the campaign, but I think record and experience and just being known in the district is more important,” he said Friday.

Voters are more likely to vote for someone with experience, “someone who has been there awhile and has been effective,” he added.

Greisamer’s lack of political experience “is a big deal” to those who want things done in Olympia, he added.

He cited among his accomplishments while in office maintaining tax benefits for the pulp and paper industry and obtaining funds for hospitals, including Olympic Medical Center facilities.

“People find me to be a pretty practical problem-solver, so they are willing to support me,” he said.

Greisamer said the disparity in contributions between him and Tharinger concerns him but said that voters should ponder if they are better off with their current representatives in Olympia.

Greisamer, interviewed by cellphone while he was campaigning at the Grays Harbor County Fair in Elma, was incredulous about an Olympic Region Clean Air Agency sign posted nearby that prohibited use of burn barrels anywhere in Washington state.

“Can you imagine, it’s illegal to use a burn barrel?” he said.

“There are so many of the regulations right now which I really think are stifling our economy — the delay in building permits, the denial of a permit to drill a well, to obtain water so you can build a house on your property.

“Things like this are chipping away at our personal freedoms.”

Greisamer said he has spent little money on advertising. Most of campaign time has been devoted to ringing door bells and talking one-on-one with voters in Grays Harbor County.

He expects to rely on contributors for suggestions on how their money should be spent as his candidacy attracts more financial support.

“I will talk to people making the contributions and see what their recommended strategy would be, would they like,” he said.

Tharinger said he expects to place more radio and newspaper ads as his campaign progresses.

Tharinger’s 112 contributions listed Friday on the PDC website (http://tinyurl.com/PDN-campaign) included $1,900 contributions from the Washington Health Care Association in Tumwater, the Campaign for Self-Reliance by Washington Indian Gaming Association, and the Association of Washington Spirits & Wine Distributors Political Action Committee.

Below are contributions of $100 or more to Tharinger from contributors from Clallam and Jefferson counties:

■   $1,600: Colleen Lamb-Gunnerson, Sequim.

■   $1,000: Jefferson County Democrats and Central Committee, Port Townsend.

■   $500: Wilder Toyota, Port Angeles.

■   $250: Mike Reichner, Rosalind Reichner, Sequim.

■   $150: Connie Gallant, Quilcene.

■   $100: Len Lewicki, Conn O’Neil, Virginia O’Neil, Carol Hull, Marcia Radey, Diane Salyer, James Salyer, Dennis Watson, Nancy Watson, Sequim; George Randels, Port Townsend.

Below are contributions of $100 or more to Greisamer from Clallam and Jefferson counties, according to Daniels:

■   $200: Gerald Stiles, Sequim.

■   $100: Dick Pilling, Port Angeles.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at pgottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: August 10. 2014 6:07PM
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