Washougal Mayor Pro Tem Jon Russell announced Tuesday that he is bowing out of the 3rd Congressional District race, has endorsed Republican state Rep. Jaime Herrera in that contest, and will run for Herrera’s 18th District legislative seat.
Russell said in a statement that since Herrera entered the race late last year, “there has been a dramatic negative shift in our fundraising ability. Many of my supporters have been torn in their loyalties between Rep. Herrera and me.”
“We were bringing in close to $10,000 a month between September and November,” he said in an interview. “Once Jaime got in in December, that dropped to $500 a month.”
Russell said he believes that he and Herrera are in agreement on most issues, with the exception of imposing term limits on members of Congress, which he supports.
“I have confidence in her to make the right decisions on our behalf in Washington D.C.” Russell said. “I encourage my supporters to rally behind Jaime in her bid for Congress.”
Russell becomes the second candidate in three days to withdraw from the highly competitive race to succeed U.S. Rep. Brian Baird. Democratic state Rep. Deb Wallace announced Sunday that she was dropping out, also because of fund-raising challenges.
Besides Herrera, Olympia financial consultant David Castillo and Camas tea party activist David Hedrick are the other Republicans remaining in the race.
Russell said he plans to formally announce his candidacy for the legislative seat March 8 in his hometown of Washougal and expects to hit the ground running.
“I bring an organizational structure with me that has been up and running since last June,” he said. “I have received well over 300 individual contributions and I have an army of 200 volunteers who are dedicated to the cause.”
He said he decided to run for the Legislature because as the owner of an urgent and family care clinic, he believes he can have an impact on state health care policy. He said he would also bring his experience as a business owner and an elected local official to the job.
“As an entrepreneur whose business has hired employees in the midst of the current recession, I know what it will take to get Clark County and Cowlitz County back to work,” he said.
As a city councilor, he added, “I understand the importance of working with local governments in the 18th Legislative District to eliminate the unfunded mandates that drive up the cost of government and necessitate increases, including the water rates and sewer rates levied against citizens.”
Russell joins a large field of candidates for the open 18th District seat. They include Republicans Shannon Barnett, Bob Dean, Ann Rivers and Brandon Vick, Democrat Dennis Kampe and independent Richard Carson.
Kathie Durbin: 360-735-4523 or firstname.lastname@example.org.