Pridemore says Senate seat his top priority

Legislator will not run for secretary of state

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OLYMPIA — Vancouver Sen. Craig Pridemore said Monday it is highly unlikely he will run for anything except re-election to his current Senate seat.

Pridemore made the announcement after he told The Columbian on Friday that he had not ruled out a run for secretary of state.

Last week, Pridemore said a number of political options were open and he wanted to wait until political districts are redrawn before deciding whether to take up a campaign for something other than his current state Senate seat.

Monday, Pridemore said he wanted to further clarify his political intentions. He emphasized that he is solely committed to holding onto his Senate seat.

“I am not a candidate for secretary of state,” he said.

While he respects what the secretary of state does, Pridemore said he can have more influence on the issues that matter most to him.

The question of Pridemore’s plans arose out of a popular rumor circulating around the Capitol that the Democratic senator might join the race to replace Sam Reed next year as Washington’s secretary of state. It is unclear who started the rumor.

Around the time he announced his retirement, Reed heard speculation among news sources that Pridemore could emerge as his replacement. Reed saw Pridemore as a likely candidate, considering that Pridemore is the chairman of the Senate Government Operations and Elections Committee and a former Clark County commissioner.

Pridemore has since asked Reed to help dispel the rumor. Rep. Jim Moeller, D-Vancouver, said he sensed the word did not make it far beyond Olympia. Moeller saw Pridemore as a likely candidate, as well.

“I was not surprised that I heard his name,” Moeller said. “I mean who wouldn’t consider it, honestly?”

He thinks Pridemore would do a superb job as secretary of state and wage a competitive campaign to get there if the senator wanted to run.

“Craig is a hard campaigner,” Moeller said. “I think he would get a great deal of support.”

Expecting more contenders to enter the race, Moeller said he would be surprised if others do not consider making an attempt to fill Reed’s shoes.

Between leftover money from his 2008 Senate campaign and additional money raised, Pridemore said he has about $70,000 for his Senate re-election campaign so far.