McEntire to challenge Tharinger for 24th District seat

The 24th District’s two state representatives and the region’s 6th District congressman — all Democrats — are well on their way to running for re-election this November.

Four-term state Rep. Steve Tharinger of Sequim has a familiar challenger — Jim McEntire.

Tharinger, who registered as a candidate on Oct. 9 according to PDC records, is chair of the Capital Budget Committee and a member of the Appropriations Health Care & Wellness committees.

He said he and fellow Democrats Rep. Mike Chapman and state Sen. Kevin Van De Wege of Sequim work well together.

“I think the team of Sen. Van De Wege and Rep. Chapman and myself have provided good representation for the 24th District,” Tharinger said.

Tharinger said he’s focused his attention on improving rural health care and championed a pilot project — part of a statewide effort — to promote the use of cross-laminated timber prefabricated wood panels.

Among possible challengers for Tharinger’s seat will be Jim McEntire, a former Republican Clallam County commissioner and Port of Port Angeles commissioner, who said earlier this month he is running for the 24th District seat held by Tharinger, himself a former Clallam County commissioner.

McEntire, defeated in 2010 by Tharinger in the state representative’s inaugural run, said 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.

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. He 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, Chapman and Van De Wege.

“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.”

Chapman, a former Clallam County commissioner from Port Angeles, registered as a candidate Aug. 11, according to the state Public Disclosure Commission.

Chapman, a former Republican, said Republicans have locked up the state’s rural counties except for Chapman’s seat and need one more seat to eliminate the Democrats’ 50-48 majority.

Chapman said that’s why he expects at least one Republican to go up against him.

“The Republican House leadership has made me the target,” he said. “They are definitely organized and ready to go.”

Chapman, vice chair of the agricultural and natural resources committee and a member of the transportation and public safety committees, said he deserves re-election.

He said his major accomplishment was securing $30 million to replace the Elwha River bridge on U.S. Highway 101, calling it “a teamwork effort” with Tharinger.

“Someone had to put in that budget request, and had to work that budget request, and that was me,” Chapman said.

U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, a Port Angeles native whose 6th Congressional district includes Clallam and Jefferson counties, filed a statement of candidacy for the 2018 election Jan. 1, 2017, two months after he won his third term in the November 2016 election, according to the Federal Election Commission.

“Derek is focused on working hard to grow opportunities and good jobs in our region,” his spokesman, Tim Biba, said in a Dec. 28 email. “There will be plenty of time for politics and elections in 2018, and he’ll have an announcement about his re-election campaign at an appropriate time.”

Filing week is May 14-18 for the Nov. 6 general election for county, state and federal candidates. A primary is Aug. 6 for races with three or more candidates to winnow down the general election selections to two for each race.

Judge declines fifth term

Judge Rick Porter has decided to not run for re-election. The four-term Port Angeles-area Clallam County District Court 1 jurist announced today he will not seek a fifth, four-year term.

“At the end of this year, I will also be retiring as a lieutenant colonel in the United States Air Force Reserve after 27 years of service to this great nation,” Porter said in a press release.

“I am blessed. I would like to thank my loving wife, Dorthe and our three children Dasha, Kaj and Sienna for their support and my dedicated staff for their years of service. I would also like to thank the voters of Clallam County. It has been a tremendous honor and privilege to be elected four times as your district court judge.”