UPDATE: Cortes drops out of legislative race

GOP chairman Brandon Vick only candidate in race

By Stevie Mathieu, Columbian assistant metro editor

Published:

Updated: June 7, 2012, 7:10 PM

 
photoAdrian Cortes

It appears Clark County Republican Party Chairman Brandon Vick will win an 18th District legislative seat, given that his only opponent, Republican Adrian Cortes, announced Thursday that he’s dropping out of the race.

Vick said he will continue with the campaign he had planned and noted that Cortes’ name would still technically be on the November ballot.

“I still need to do a lot to build my own name recognition,” Vick said by phone Thursday.

Cortes, a Battle Ground city councilman, said dropping out of the race is necessary because “my current schedule cannot support the huge time demands that waging a legislative campaign would take,” according to his announcement. He also said that when he decided to run for office, he did not realize there would be another Republican in the race.

“After only a short amount of deliberation, I decided to step up to serve, given that no one else had done so,” Cortes said. “Things have changed.”

One significant change occurred when former state Sen. Joseph Zarelli, R-Ridgefield, resigned on May 31 rather than serving the last months of his term. Before Zarelli declined to file for re-election last month, he encouraged incumbent Rep. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, to run to replace him, and he also encouraged Cortes to run to succeed Rivers.

Meanwhile, other Republicans in Clark County, such as state Rep. Paul Harris, R-Vancouver, were encouraging Vick to file for the same job.

When Zarelli resigned, he suggested Rivers be appointed to replace him until a new senator is elected. Both Vick and Cortes said at that time that they would apply for the appointment, should Rivers be appointed to fill Zarelli’s seat.

That would have created an awkward situation for Republican Clark County commissioners, who were apprehensive about making an endorsement in the race between Vick and Cortes but who are also tasked with making midterm legislative appointments. Commissioners briefly discussed having one on their own, Commissioner Tom Mielke, fill the interim appointment as a possible solution.

Cortes said by phone on Thursday that his family has to come first. He has two daughters; one is 6 and the other is 8 months old. He is also pursuing a bachelor’s degree and working as a real estate investor.

“It wasn’t easy by any means,” Cortes said of dropping out. “This is really a family decision, and I’m really committed to serving on the Battle Ground City Council. That’s where my focus lies.”

Vick said he and Cortes will have no trouble working together in the future.

“We’re parting as friends, and we’re going to continue to work together,” Vick said.

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