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Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna rolled through Vancouver on Tuesday morning as part of a 29-stop campaign tour aimed at getting out the vote in the final days before the Nov. 6 election.
“This voter turnout effort is absolutely crucial,” he said, encouraging his campaign volunteers to continue their voter outreach efforts. “That’s what we need to do in Clark County. … When we do that, we win. And when our voter turnout is low, we don’t win.”
He spoke to a crowd of about 45 supporters who had gathered in a Republican call center in Hazel Dell. McKenna, who is traveling in an RV for eight days straight, also planned to make stops Tuesday in the cities of Carson, Goldendale and Yakima.
In front of the Vancouver crowd, McKenna highlighted the importance of education reform in Washington state.
“We need to put a new team on the field in Olympia,” he said. “Education reform has been blocked again and again and again by the governor, who says: ‘Hey, the teachers union hasn’t approved it. I’ll veto it.’ That’s not acceptable.”
McKenna also threw his support behind several Southwest Washington candidates, including U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, and state Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver.
“We need to re-elect Don Benton to make sure we get that majority in the state Senate,” McKenna said.
Benton is running for re-election in the most competitive legislative race in Clark County, if campaign fundraising figures are any indication. His challenger is state Rep. Tim Probst, D-Vancouver, who decided to run for a Senate seat rather than seek re-election to the House.
During his speech, McKenna touted his own 11 endorsements from daily newspapers across the state. He also said recent polling figures show him with a slight edge in the race for governor.
Last week, a new Elway Poll showed McKenna leading his Democratic challenger, Jay Inslee, by two percentage points — 47 percent to 45 percent. The poll questioned likely voters and has a 4.5 percent margin of error in either direction.
“You all have been a part of that,” he said. “We have the best, most collaborative, most highly coordinated campaign that I’ve ever seen in a presidential election year.”
State Rep. Paul Harris, R-Vancouver, gave the crowd a pep talk following McKenna’s speech by likening the campaign to a race between two runners. “Rob McKenna right now has the inside lane; he’s about a step and a half ahead of Inslee,” Harris said. “We’ve got to get Rob a little farther ahead. … I do not want to sit in Olympia with anybody other than our man here.”
The last leg of the 2012 campaign season equates to 150 hours, recently appointed state Rep. Liz Pike, R-Camas, told the group. She followed up by asking: “What can you do for Rob in 150 hours?”