McEntire to run against Tharinger for state rep seat

Jim McEntire

Jim McEntire

SEQUIM — Jim McEntire has heeded the call of the state House Republican Caucus.

He’s running for office again.

McEntire, a former Republican Clallam County commissioner and Port of Port Angeles commissioner, said Monday he will announce today that he is running for the 24th District Position 2 seat held by four-term incumbent and fellow Sequim resident Steve Tharinger, a Democrat and himself a former Clallam County commissioner.

McEntire, defeated in 2010 by Tharinger in the state representative’s inaugural run, said Monday the Republican Caucus asked him to give it another try after sensing possible Democratic Party weakness in the rural district that includes Clallam and Jefferson counties and part of Grays Harbor County.

Lessons learned

Republican Jim Walsh defeated Democrat Teresa Purcell by 559 votes in 2016 in a rare GOP win in the 24th’s neighboring 19th District, which includes part of Grays Harbor County.

The implications of that victory were not lost on Republican House leadership, McEntire said.

Democrats hold a 50-48 edge in the House.

“I am sure they thought there were some possibilities in the 24th that might not have existed prior to that,” McEntire said.

McEntire said Tharinger was not serving the district well.

“It should be obvious that the Legislature and specifically our [24th District] legislative delegation is not paying too much attention to the economic needs of the district at large,” McEntire said of Tharinger, Democratic state Rep. Mike Chapman of Port Angeles and state Sen. Kevin Van De Wege of Sequim.

“Overall, that’s going to be the basis of my campaign.

“We need to remove some of the regulatory stumbling blocks of capital formation and have an increase in the number of businesses and an increase in the number of better-paying jobs.

“I’m not saying we are a wreck, but we sure could do better.”

Tharinger “has some things to answer for,” McEntire added.

“The 24th is a good example of what the situation is, and that needs to be corrected.”

McEntire added that Washington has the sixth highest per capita debt in the country.

He also objected to the Legislature failing to restore the ability of rural landowners to drill wells exempt from permit requirements while developing their property or in order to sell it.

Tharinger, who registered in October as a candidate, has won his past four elections with an average of 56 percent of the vote, although McEntire defeated him in Clallam County in 2010.

Filing week for the election is May 14-18.

Tharinger, who chairs the House capital budget committee, learned Monday that McEntire is running against him again.

“I have a good record to build on with successes over the last four years,” Tharinger said, citing capital projects and rural health care.

McEntire said both Tharinger and Chapman, who also is running for re-election and with whom McEntire served as a county commissioner, have equal name recognition but that Tharinger has more of a record to run against.

“As a committee chair, more should have been expected of him,” McEntire said of Tharinger.

“I just thought that Steve, with all other things being equal, was the opponent I should contest with because he has been there longer and thus has more to answer for in terms of the economy and the policies that are important to the 24th District.”

McEntire, 67, a retired Coast Guard captain, moved to Sequim in 2006 with his wife, Sherry, a retired social worker.

He won election to the Port of Port Angeles board of commissioners unopposed in 2007.

He resigned from that board in 2011 after being elected to the Clallam County board of commissioners, a seat he lost to Mark Ozias in 2015.

McEntire is vice chair of the county Economic Development Corp. and on the port’s Timber Advisory Committee, positions he said he will resign from to run for the 24th District seat.

He said he sees hope for his chances at victory in President Donald Trump’s strong numbers in Western Washington in 2016, the same year Trump won the presidency and Jim Walsh won his 19th District seat.

McEntire said he voted for a different Republican candidate in the Washington presidential primary, whose name he said Monday he could not remember, but he voted for Trump for president.

“In no way could I vote for the Democratic Party candidate,” he said, referring to Hillary Clinton.

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

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