Stober leaves Senate race to fight for gay marriage law

One candidate remains as filing deadline looms

By Stevie Mathieu, Columbian assistant metro editor

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Vancouver businessman and equal rights advocate Ty Stober announced last week that he’s abandoning his state Senate race because he wants to continue the fight to protect a recently passed state law allowing same-sex couples to marry.

Stober also said he strongly endorses Annette Cleveland, who was his only competition so far in the race to replace state Sen. Craig Pridemore, D-Vancouver, in the 49th District. Pridemore has said he will not seek re-election and instead will run for state auditor this fall.

Stober is board chairman for Seattle-based Equal Rights Washington, which played a hand in bringing the same-sex marriage bill before the 2012 Legislature. The same-sex marriage bill was signed into law by Gov. Chris Gregoire, but will not go into effect until June 7 at the earliest.

Opponents of same-sex marriage are attempting to bring the issue before voters with Referendum 74. The referendum would overturn the same-sex marriage law. Opponents need to gather more than 120,000 signatures from registered voters before it can be placed on the ballot.

“This month, groups outside Washington state have pledged millions of dollars to undo the courageous law our Republican and Democratic legislators passed this year,” Stober said in a statement released March 27. “Leaving this race is a difficult decision, but preserving marriage equality is defending my family and I feel compelled to continue my statewide leadership role in that effort.”

This was Stober’s first time running for public office. He also works as consumer products manager for the nonprofit Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, where he encourages retailers to stock and promote the most energy-efficient products.

Stober has spent most of the past two decades living in Vancouver, where he has served on the Felida Neighborhood Association board and volunteered at the Fruit Valley Community Resource Center. He lives with his domestic partner in Vancouver’s Hough neighborhood.

Cleveland, who oversees government affairs for Legacy Health, is the only candidate left in the race at this point. The candidate filing period begins May 14.

Stober said he and Cleveland, who is also a Democrat, both focused their campaigns on giving Clark County residents family-wage jobs, a strong education system and social safety net programs.

“Over the past few months, I have come to know Annette for her passion and intelligence,” Stober said in his statement. “She will fight for the needs of our community and be a strong and progressive advocate for the people of Vancouver and Hazel Dell.”

Cleveland said on Monday afternoon that she respects Stober, and “I completely understand his decision to really focus on a top priority for our community and our state.”

Stevie Mathieu: 360-735-4523 or stevie.mathieu@columbian.com or www.facebook.com/reportermathieu or www.twitter.com/col_politics