Tharinger ready for legislature run

Sequim’s Steve Tharinger, Clallam County Commissioner, announced his candidacy today for the 24th Legislative District seat held by House Majority Leader Lynn Kessler. 

“I have been both surprised and pleased by the number of friends and colleagues who have come forward to encourage me to run,” Tharinger said in a press release. “I have respected Lynn’s work for so many years, I simply had not thought about making this move.  Now that the decision is made, however, I look forward to the campaign and to representing this district.”

Kessler announced in mid-April she will not seek her 10th term.

Tharinger, a Democrat, is serving his 11th year as county commissioner.

Soon after Kessler’s announcement, Tharinger said he was interested in the office but wanted to talk with Democrat party leaders before he officially announced his candidacy.

On Friday afternoon, after speaking with Speaker of the House Frank Chopp (D-Seattle) and several commissioners in the legislative district, including Mike Chapman and Mike Doherty, Clallam’s other county commissioners, Tharinger said he heard what he needed to hear.

“I got some pretty positive feedback,” Tharinger said by phone today. “I think that they think it’s a good fit.”

Recognized for his work locally and statewide with salmon recovery, biodiversity, workforce development and mental health and aging initiatives, Tharinger said his next steps are putting together and election campaign team, hosting kick-off events within the district and connect with constituents throughout the legislative district that spans Clallam, Jefferson and Grays Harbor counties, with 80,000 registered voters throughout.

“There are huge differences across the 24th district — timber, traditional agriculture, dairy, fishing, alternative energy development, our ports, tourism and the Olympic National Park dominate our diverse economy,” Tharinger said in the press release. “Retirees share our communities with working families and tribal neighbors who have centuries of history in this beautiful area.  We are, in many ways, a microcosm of the State of Washington.”

Tharinger and his wife Yvonne Yakota are 30-year residents of the Olympic Peninsula. He is a 1971 graduate of Colorado College.

Pat Johansen is Tharinger’s campaign chair while Yakota serves as his treasurer.

Jim McEntire of Sequim, Jack Dwyer of Montesano and Larry Carter of Port Ludlow have also expressed interest in running for Kessler’s 24th district seat.

Reach Michael Dashiell at

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