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Oct. 31, 2020

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Former lawmaker Heck mulls congressional run

Democrat would bring field to replace Baird to six so far

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Democrat Denny Heck, a former Clark County legislator and the founder of the state government cable channel TVW, is the latest candidate to announce he is “strongly considering” running for the 3rd Congressional District seat U.S. Rep. Brian Baird will vacate at the end of 2010.

Heck, who lives in Olympia, said he would decide by the coming weekend whether to join the race. In the meantime he will deposit $100,000 of his own money in a congressional campaign fund.

“I’m very serious about it,” he said.

Heck, 57, grew up in Vancouver and attended Columbia River High School. He won election to the Legislature at age 23 and served from 1977 to 1985. He resigned to become chief clerk of the House and in 1988 lost a campaign for state superintendent of public instruction.

He later served as chief of staff to former Gov. Booth Gardner before starting TVW.

“What many people don’t realize is that I’ve spent the last 10 years primarily engaged in the private sector, investing and starting companies,” Heck said Monday. He was an original investor in RealNetworks, a digital entertainment company; a founder of Intrepid Learning Solutions, which provides business services to Fortune 500 companies; and is co-owner of Bruin Development in Thurston County. He was also the lead investor in Digital Efficiency, an electronic medical records company.

Heck said he favors providing investment tax credits to businesses to help stimulate job creation. “I’d also be one who thinks we could be doing a much better job of oversight of (federal) stimulus money,” he said.

If Heck runs, he will join Democrats Cheryl Crist of Olympia and Rep. Deb Wallace of Vancouver and Republicans David Castillo of Olympia, Jon Russell of Washougal and David William Hedrick of Camas as confirmed candidates.

Among those who say they are considering the race are Sen. Craig Pridemore and Rep. Jim Moeller of Vancouver, Cowlitz County Commissioner Axel Swanson, state Sen. Brian Hatfield of Raymond, state Rep. Brendan Williams of Olympia, and Andy Drop, a Centralia airline pilot, all Democrats; and Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera of Ridgefield.

Heck said he agrees with Republicans who say 2010 could be their best chance in years to win the 3rd District.

“This is a swing district. It’s going to be a year that’s likely trending Republican. I think they are very fair in their assessment that this is the best chance they’ve had for a while.”

At the same time, he said, Democrats have held the seat for all but four years in the past 50.

If he runs, Heck would begin with by far the largest campaign war chest of any candidate.

Castillo had raised nearly $54,000 as of Sept. 30, according to Federal Election Commission filings, and Russell had raised about $18,000. Crist had about $2,730 left over from her 2008 campaign.

Baird has a campaign chest of $622,098. He could decide to contribute up to $4,000 per candidate during the 2010 election cycle. He could also choose to repay campaign debts or return money to contributors with a recommendation on where to donate it.

The Olympian contributed to this report.

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