GOP county leader running for legislative seat

SEQUIM— A Clallam County Republican Party leader from Sequim, who was chairing the county party when it sanctioned then-Republican Mike Chapman, is running against Chapman for his 24th legislative district seat.

Sue Forde, chairwoman of the county Republican Party, filed March 6 for the two-year House seat held by Chapman, a second-term Democratic Position 1 state legislator from Port Angeles.

District 24 includes Clallam and Jefferson counties and the northern half of Grays Harbor County.

In 2007 Chapman, then a Republican Clallam County commissioner, endorsed Democrat and county fellow commissioner Steve Tharinger over Bob Forde, Sue Forde’s husband, whom Tharinger defeated.

The following year Chapman was informed in a letter from the party’s executive board that “for a two-year period, you are barred from holding yourself as a Republican with any standing.”

That meant the GOP would not support him.

According to party leaders, Chapman had broken the organization’s bylaws by supporting a Democrat when the party had already endorsed and financially supported Forde.

Sue Forde, who then chaired the county GOP, ran unsuccessfully against Tharinger in 2003.

Forde said Friday she recused herself from the board vote sanctioning Chapman.

The bylaw has since been changed, she added.

“That piece was taken out,” she said.

Forde declined to comment on whether she agreed with penalizing Chapman.

“It doesn’t matter what I thought,” she said.

As for a Republican endorsing a Democrat again, “we would hope that wouldn’t happen,” Forde said.

Chapman said Friday he believes he did the right thing by endorsing the best candidate, adding he felt slighted by never being able to state his case before the executive board.

Chapman said he always equated the move as being thrown out of the party.

“It pretty much closed the door on that membership,” Chapman said.

“In retrospect, they did what they felt the party needed, and I did what I felt was best for the county, and the voters agreed and continue to agree.”

Chapman said he continues to work well with Tharinger, a Port Townsend resident and a 24th District state representative in his fifth term.

“We need more members of one party endorsing members of the other party when they are the better candidate,” Chapman said.

He said he expects the campaign to begin now that the legislative session has ended.

Forde has $1,450 in campaign contributions from five Sequim-area contributors, all reported March 4, according to the state Public Disclosure Commission.

She released a campaign announcement Wednesday that did not mention Chapman, saying only she was running for the district’s Position 1 seat.

Forde criticized what she said were increasing taxes and regulations, restrictions on the timber industry, reduced employment, “tax-and-regulate spend bills,” and a mandated K-12 sex education bill “which is terrible.”

She also cited her two terms on the county charter review commission and her experience as a Realtor, journalist and, currently, a website designer, saying she “listens to, understands and acts upon concerns individuals express.”

Chapman, who filed for re-election Dec. 31, 2018, two months after defeating Republican Jim McEntire of Sequim, starts his campaign with $33,050 from 46 contributors recorded between August and December 2019.

“For 18 years, she’s thought I haven’t done a good job,” he said of Forde, calling her “part of the group that kicked me out of the party.”

Her criticisms of the Legislature don’t apply to him, Chapman said.

“That’s just boilerplate Republican talking points, which I expect from the Republican chair.”

He pointed to achievements including free college tuition for most students and transportation and capital projects that lawmakers have funded.

“I’m not disapointed to have a challenger. I’m disappointed to have the far-right talking points,” Chapman said.

Jodi Wilke of Port Hadlock, who ran unsuccessfully against Chapman in 2018, also filed for Chapman’s position Feb. 11, 2019.

Wilke said in August that she did not intend to run this year against Chapman.

Her registration remained on file Friday with the PDC.

Wilke did not return calls for comment Friday.

Candidate filing week for the Nov. 3 general election is May 11-15.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected] news.com.

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