PORT ANGELES — Republican Brian Pruiett will try a second time to unseat six-term state Rep. Steve Tharinger.
The Carlsborg resident filed his candidacy Oct. 8 with the state Public Disclosure Commission without announcing the move, allowing him to raise campaign funds for the 24th District Position 2 slot.
Pruiett, who has not held public office, made it official last week with a press release, reinforcing his intention to run for the Port Townsend Democrat’s Position 2 seat.
The district covers Clallam and Jefferson counties and half of Grays Harbor County, growing by about 9,000 residents in Grays Harbor than in 2020, to 62 percent of that county’s population, due to statewide redistricting.
Tharinger, a former Clallam County commissioner, defeated Pruiett 56 percent to 44 percent overall (49,262 votes to 42,515) in the November 2020 election, losing Grays Harbor.
Tharinger filed for re-election five months later, in April 2021.
Pruiett emphasized he won the 24th District portion of Grays Harbor County — and won Clallam County by 50 votes.
He lost Jefferson County 69 percent to 31 percent.
In his press release, Pruiett decried what he called the “politicalization” of the COVID-19 pandemic, saying Democrats used it to pass laws that hurt people. He criticized state government’s response, saying it “robbed us of community and security.”
Pruiett said Gov. Jay Inslee employed “dictatorial overreaches” and conducted “senseless firings” in combating the two-year health crisis.
“I believe extending his emergency powers without legislative oversight is criminal,” Pruiett said.
“Many of the Governor’s actions violate the State Constitution and are increasingly challenged in courts,” he said in a press release.
“It’s shameful how the Majority Democrats in Olympia, including Tharinger, failed to stop these violations.
“Collectively, the Democrat lawmakers have not lived up to their own Constitutional mandate of checks and balances. Worse, they used the pandemic as opportunity to push through laws that do more to hurt, than help the people.”
Pruiett criticized state lawmakers for passing six “so-called police reform bills” in 2021 that he said resulted in drastic increases in crime and violence.
“As your representative, I will stand between you, our taxpayers, and the tax-and-spenders,” Pruiett said.
“I will push for fiscal responsibility and stewardship, beginning with the rollback of every one of the harmful taxes enacted by Tharinger and his majority Democrats.”
Tharinger brushed off the suggestion Pruiett ran strongly against him in 2020.
“I won the election, let’s put it that way,” Tharinger said Thursday.
Redistricting added voters mostly in Aberdeen and all of Montesano, which Tharinger said he won the last time the city was part of the 24th.
Tharinger said the district now has more voters closer to the Interstate 5 corridor.
Pruiett’s criticisms are “Republican talking points” and “campaign rhetoric, not really grounded in the reality of what’s going on,” he said.
“They lack nuance or understanding of how complex things are.”
The police reform legislation approved in 2021 that upset law enforcement agencies has been amended by working with police chiefs and prosecuting attorneys, including those in Clallam and Jefferson counties, Tharinger said.
“That point is kind of moot,” he said.
“To argue those bills created more crime, COVID is kind of the overarching issue that is impacting everything from inflation in the economy to public safety to just getting things done.”
He turned Pruiett’s criticism of how the pandemic has been handled on its head.
“His party has politicized the pandemic and really challenged the standard pandemic tools to combat it,” Tharinger said.
“It’s an oversimplification when you politicize wearing masks and getting vaccines.”
He said he, 24th District Rep. Mike Chapman and 24th District Sen. Kevin Van De Wege sent Inslee a letter saying they were not happy with Inslee’s phased reopening plan and its unfairness to the district.
Tharinger, who registered with the PDC on April 12, 2021, has raised $44,943, including $38,650 in contributions and a $6,293 starting balance, as of Friday, according to the PDC (pdc.wa.gov). He has spent $5,611, mostly on fees, utilities and overhead costs through the Seattle political consulting firm Argo Strategies.
None of the House Capital Budget Committee chair’s 51 contributions are from Clallam or Jefferson counties, including 29 of $1,000 each. The largest is the Washington Beverage Association Political Action Committee, which contributed two donations of $1,000.
Pruiett, who had a starting balance of $3,185, has raised $760 more in 11 contributions, nine of which are from Jefferson County and two from Port Angeles, for a total of $3,945 as of Friday, according to the PDC.
Expenditures of $435 include $267 for lodging, accommodations and meals at Ocean Paradise Hotel and Resort in Ocean Shores in January and $165 for accounting, regulatory, legal and other services through Elect Northwest.
Filing week for the Nov. 8 general election is May 16-20. The last day for candidates to withdraw from the race without their names being on the ballot is May 23.
The PDC must be notified if a candidate publicly states their intention to run for office.
There is no fee for that notification.
The primary election for races with more than two candidates is Aug. 2.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at email@example.com.