Candidate: COVID-19 changes election season

Social-distancing guidelines could severely limit forums

Get ready for a different kind of general election season, one with COVID-19-related restrictions on large gatherings that will prove to be demanding for candidates who need exposure.

Democratic State Rep. Steve Tharinger of Port Townsend, who filed for re-election to his Legislative District 24 seat late Monday afternoon, predicted Tuesday that social-distancing guidelines will severely limit the forums that provide fodder for campaigns, especially for the top-two Aug. 4 primary.

Republican Brian Pruiett of Carlsborg filed Monday for Tharinger’s Position 2 seat.

Tharinger — whose district is composed of Clallam and Jefferson counties and part of Grays Harbor County — was one of several candidates who filed for the election late Monday and Tuesday, including a third person vying for Position 2 Jefferson County commissioner.

Democrat Amanda Rae Funaro joined Democrats Heidi Eisenhour of Port Hadlock and Lorna Smith of Port Townsend in running for the Position 2 Jefferson County commissioner seat held by Democrat David Sullivan, who is not running for re-election, creating a primary contest.

Marty Michaelis of Sequim also filed Tuesday for the Clallam County Public Utility District, Commissioner District 2 seat being vacated by David Anderson, causing another Aug. 4 primary contest, since Patti Morris of Port Angeles and Marty Michaelis of Sequim filed Monday for the PUD position.

“It’s not going to be a normal campaign season,” said Tharinger, who has served five terms.

“Everyone’s dealing with the virus.

“A lot is going to be done through the paper and other mediums.

“Maybe by fall, by September or October, it might be a normal campaign cycle.”

Two-term state Rep. Mike Chapman of Port Angeles, the incumbent, filed Monday for his Position 1 seat. He has drawn two challengers, Clallam County Republican Chair Sue Forde of Sequim and Daniel Charles Svoboda of Port Hadlock, who listed his party as “Trump Republican.”

First-term 24th District incumbent state Sen. Kevin Van De Wege of Sequim, a former five-term state representative and a Democrat, also filed for re-election.

The Democrat is being challenged by Port of Port Angeles Commissioner Connie Beauvais of Joyce, a Republican.

One-term Clallam County Commissioner Randy Johnson, who listed no party preference, filed for re-election Monday. He said he expects to have a campaign Facebook page or website by next week.

Johnson, who also listed no party preference in his campaign, said Tuesday he takes a nonpartisan approach to being a commissioner.

“My philosophy is what’s best for the county,” he said.

“We need a great health department, which we’ve seen with COVID-19, and we need to be fiscally conservative.”

Jefferson County District 1 Commissioner Kate Dean, a Port Townsend Democrat, also filed for re-election.

Incumbent Clallam County Superior Court Judges Lauren Erickson and Brent Basden filed for re-election Monday, while an appointee ready to fill the county’s third Superior Court judgeship put his hat in the ring for the seat he will occupy June 1.

Simon Barnhart, selected last week by Gov. Jay Inslee to take retiring Judge Brian Coughenour’s position, filed Monday evening for the Nov. 3 election.

Incumbent Jefferson County Superior Court Position 1 Judge Keith Harper also filed for re-election.

Kenneth Collins, the incumbent Jefferson County Public Utility District commissioner, also filed for re-election.

Four-term Democratic U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer of Gig Harbor, whose 6th Congressional District includes Clallam and Jefferson counties, filed Monday morning for re-election.

Republican Elizabeth Kreiselmaier of Gig Harbor filed Tuesday for Kilmer’s position.

On her website,, she criticizes “socialistic government programs” and describes herself as a former educator.

Tacoma Democrat Rebecca Parson, who on her Facebook page describes herself as a small business owner and “a bold, progressive Democrat,” filed Monday evening to run against Kilmer.


Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at