Two GOP members face off in the 18th District

Republicans diverge on Medicaid, ed funding

By Stevie Mathieu, Columbian assistant metro editor


photoBrandon Vick

Adrian Cortes' 2012 candidate survey

Download .PDF


Brandon Vick's 2012 candidate survey

Download .PDF

Adrian Cortes

Party: Republican.

City of residence: Battle Ground.

Age: 36.

Occupation: Manages family-owned real estate holding company.

Campaign website: Elect Adrian Cortes

Major endorsements: State Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center; former Republican state Sen. Joseph Zarelli; Battle Ground Mayor Lisa Walters; Camas Mayor Scott Higgins; and Washougal Mayor Sean Guard.

Money raised in campaign: $5,171.

Brandon Vick

Party: Republican.

City of residence: Vancouver.

Age: 28.

Occupation: Landscape contractor .

Campaign website: Brandon Vick

Major endorsements: House Republican leader Richard DeBolt of Chehalis; state Rep. Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama; state Rep. Paul Harris, R-Vancouver; state Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver; Association of Washington Business.

Money raised in campaign: $20,971.

Thanks to a top two primary voting system, Clark County's 18th District voters will decide between two Republicans in this fall's Position 1 House race.

The two GOP members vying for that open House seat are former Clark County Republican chairman Brandon Vick and Battle Ground City Councilman Adrian Cortes.

Cortes, who suspended his campaign for a couple of months this summer, lags behind Vick when it comes to fundraising. Cortes has raised more than $5,000 in campaign contributions while Vick has raised nearly $21,000.

Republican legislators seem split on whom to endorse in the race. Vick said he has endorsements from House Republican leader Richard DeBolt of Chehalis; Rep. Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama; Rep. Paul Harris, R-Vancouver; and Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver. Meanwhile, Cortes said he has 18th Legislative District endorsements from Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, and former Republican state Sen. Joseph Zarelli.

Vick and Cortes share similar views on most political topics, but they differ somewhat when it comes to their priorities, expanding Medicaid in the state, and their ideas about education funding.

Cortes says jobs, education and reforming the state budget are his top three priorities, while Vick says his are jobs, education and affordable energy.

"Energy rates directly affect the bottom line for our families and the cost of doing business here in Clark County," Vick wrote in response to The Columbian's 2012 legislative candidate survey. "Adopting an 'all of the above' energy policy, and categorizing hydropower as 'renewable,' are just a few ways that we can work to keep energy costs low."

Paying for education

Both candidates said state lawmakers need to reprioritize their spending to make sure K-12 schools are receiving enough money to provide a basic education to all children. The State Supreme Court's McCleary decision in January determined the state was failing at that task.

Vick said he advocates for creating an education budget separate from the state's general fund, which would ensure education programs get the money they need.

"We must fully fund education," Vick said. "We must make sure that more of your money makes it into the classroom."

Cortes said that creating an education fund is a "noble" idea, but ultimately, it's an "accounting gimmick."

"What's really needed is leadership," Cortes said. "Any time you create another budget or another fund, you're basically creating more bureaucracy."

Cortes said lawmakers need to prioritize within the general fund by making education decisions before figuring out the rest of the budget.

Both candidates support Initiative 1240, which would allow charter schools in Washington state.

"Innovations in education must continue to be sought out," Vick said.


Cortes said he could support the expansion of Medicaid in Washington state as outlined under the 2010 Affordable Care Act, "if it (is) fiscally feasible" in the short term and in the long term. But before spending money on Medicaid, Cortes said, the state should prioritize spending to address education, public safety, services for senior citizens and the developmentally disabled, and transportation.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled recently to mostly uphold the health care reform act, but it also ruled that each state can decide whether to participate in the law's Medicaid plan. Medicaid is a health insurance program that provides coverage for low-income people and the disabled.

Vick said he opposes the Medicaid expansion.

"I do not believe that (the health care reform) act is financially feasible," Vick said. "But more importantly, I want Washingtonians to have the best possible health care, and Medicaid will not provide that to them."

Opposed to CRC

Both candidates oppose the Columbia River Crossing project. The $3.5 billion project would replace the Interstate 5 Bridge, extend light rail to Clark College, and rebuild freeway interchanges on both sides of the Columbia River.

Vick and Cortes both oppose bringing light rail from Portland into Vancouver, and they oppose tolls to help pay for the CRC. They also oppose C-Tran's Proposition 1, which would raise sales tax by 0.1 percentage point (one penny on a $10 purchase) to operate light rail in Vancouver and help build a bus rapid transit system on the Fourth Plain corridor.

On social issues, the candidates both oppose same-sex marriage, as well as a ballot measure to legalize recreational use of marijuana.

Cortes said he opposes same-sex marriage because he believes the state's so-called "everything but marriage" law grants domestic partners the same rights as married couples.

"When growing up, I experienced both verbal and physical discrimination due to my (Hispanic) ethnicity," Cortes said. "These are experiences that no one should be subject to. I believe we can (provide equality) while preserving the current definition of marriage between a man and a woman."

Both candidates support party-line reforms to create a more business-friendly climate in the state. Vick said the state needs to eliminate regulations that burden businesses, and Cortes said the state needs "common-sense stormwater regulations" and reforms for the state's workers' compensation program.

Vick and Cortes support Initiative 1185, which would require any tax increase posed by the Legislature to be approved by a two-thirds vote of the Legislature, rather than by a simple majority.

This is Vick's first run for public office, and it's been a bit of a roller-coaster ride.

He and Cortes filed to run against each other on the last day of filing week in May. The next month, Cortes dropped out of the race, leaving Vick unopposed. A Republican write-in candidate emerged shortly after that and made an unsuccessful primary election bid to get on the ballot against Vick.

After the primary, Cortes announced that he would re-enter the race.

Vick and Cortes are running for the House seat vacated by Rivers, who was appointed to replace Zarelli and is running for the seat in the general election. Neither Vick nor Cortes received the appointment to finish the remaining months of Rivers' House term. That appointment went to Liz Pike, who is running for the other 18th House seat (Position 2) against Democrat David Shehorn.

State Senate and House members receive an annual salary of $42,106 and may charge up to $90-a-day in per diem expenses when on state business.

Stevie Mathieu: 360-735-4523,;;