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Probst, Peck face off in 17th District

Incumbent accused challenger of lying in his cable TV ads

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Published: October 8, 2010, 12:00am
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Brian Peck
Brian Peck Photo Gallery

Brian Peck

Republican

Age: 51.

Occupation: Business owner.

Campaign finance: Raised $55,750, spent $25,040.

Campaign website: http://www.electbrianpeck.com.

Quote: “Someone with private-sector experience is going to have to get up there and do work for the people.”

Tim Probst

Democrat

Age: 40.

Occupation: Executive director, Washington Workforce Association.

Campaign finance: Raised $161,135, spent $86,097, independent support $4,385.

Campaign website: http://www.electtimprobst.com.

Quote: “I do not want to be partisan, period. I don’t think either party is concerned about the long-term good of the country.”

Political newcomer Brian Peck, a Republican, chose to take on one of the Legislature’s high-achieving rookies, one-term Democrat Tim Probst, when he filed for the 17th Legislative District seat this year.

Peck, a businessman who owns a Vancouver gas station and a property rental business, began laying the groundwork for his campaign in 2009, shortly after moving to the 17th District from the 49th. He’s received support for his campaign from Republican state Sens. Don Benton and Joe Zarelli, according to a questionnaire he filled out for the Association of Washington Business.

Probst heads the Washington Workforce Association, which works through a network of local councils to link businesses with qualified workers and potential employees with jobs or job training.

Brian Peck

Republican

Age: 51.

Occupation: Business owner.

Campaign finance: Raised $55,750, spent $25,040.

Campaign website: http://www.electbrianpeck.com.

Quote: "Someone with private-sector experience is going to have to get up there and do work for the people."

Tim Probst

Democrat

Age: 40.

Occupation: Executive director, Washington Workforce Association.

Campaign finance: Raised $161,135, spent $86,097, independent support $4,385.

Campaign website: http://www.electtimprobst.com.

Quote: "I do not want to be partisan, period. I don't think either party is concerned about the long-term good of the country."

He serves as vice chairman of the House Education Appropriations Committee and also sits on the policymaking Education Committee, the Community and Economic Development Committee and the joint Senate-House International Relations and Economic Development Committee.

A fiscal conservative, Probst was one of a handful of Democrats to vote against the 2010-11 supplemental budget and the taxes on candy, soda and bottled water that helped fund it. He has a record of voting against all state tax increases, as acknowledged by the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, a conservative budget watchdog organization that ranked him the No. 1 state legislator for opposing new taxes two years in a row.

Peck, a high school graduate, came on strong in the primary with a message calling for sharp reductions in state spending. He outpolled Probst 52.9 percent to 46.9 percent in the Aug. 17 two-way race.

In an editorial board interview with The Columbian last month, Peck accused Democratic legislative leaders of deliberately making cuts to the budget “designed to create pain for the public,” such as requiring furlough days. He said he opposed having Gov. Chris Gregoire make across-the-board cuts in state agency budgets because that amounts to “treating handicapped people the same way you treat tourism.”

Probst said he’s open to renegotiating public employee contracts and believes state administrators will have to take pay cuts, too, in order to balance a multibillion-dollar budget shortfall next year.

“The government does not need more money,” Probst told the editorial board.

He said he’s proudest of helping to win funding for a new engineering building on the Washington State University Vancouver campus during his first term. In the 2010 session, he also won support for a job retraining bill designed to address the state’s high unemployment rate by refocusing existing job-training programs on high-demand industries that are actually hiring workers. The bill passed on a bipartisan vote.

Legislative races in the 17th are usually contentious, but this race turned bitter when Peck launched a $40,000 cable TV ad campaign accusing Probst of voting for “the largest budget in state history, paid for with higher taxes” in 2009. In fact, a voter-approved initiative in place that year prohibited lawmakers from passing tax increases without a supermajority two-thirds vote in each chamber. The 2009-11 budget, which Probst did support, was an all-cuts budget that slashed state general fund spending by $5 billion.

Probst accused Peck of lying and called on him to pull the ad. Peck refused.

On Thursday, Probst launched his own cable TV ad that rebuts Peck’s attack.

“You deserve to know the true differences between me and my opponent,” Probst says. “He’s busy making TV ads that just aren’t true.”

Peck has run afoul of state campaign disclosure rules twice, once for failing to fully disclose his business relationships and once for posting campaign materials that could have been read to imply that he is the incumbent in the race. He has corrected the errors and said they were “rookie mistakes.”

Probst has raised nearly three times as much as his opponent, including $30,000 from the House Democratic Caucus Campaign Committee and $3,800 from Clark County Democrats. He’s also received hefty contributions from labor unions and the health care industry, and $4,800 from Clark County philanthropists David and Patricia Nierenberg.

Peck has raised money from the building industry, Conoco Phillips and the Gun Owners League. He has also received $3,200 from anti-toll activist David Madore, Madore’s wife, Donna, and Madore’s political action committee, NoTolls.com.

Stephanie Rice of The Columbian contributed to this report.

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