A newly formed Republican coalition is backing Marc Boldt for Clark County council chair, further deepening the divide within the local Republican Party.
Last month, the Clark County Republican Party endorsed Rep. Liz Pike, R-Camas, as the write-in candidate for the coveted chair spot. In addition, the party voted to oppose Boldt, who is a former Republican county commissioner running independently of political parties for the chair seat.
The party also voted to oppose Mike Dalesandro, the Democrat in the race.
Now, a group of Republicans has formed a political action committee to support Boldt.
Carolyn Crain, a local political activist, is behind the effort. She said about 70 Republicans have signed on.
“We believe Marc Boldt is a Republican. He’s on the ballot, he’s an honorable man and therefore will do a good job,” Crain said.
Pike, who is a current state legislator, is not on the ballot. The lawmaker said she would serve if elected but has told The Columbian previously she won’t campaign for the seat.
“Liz Pike is not running. Marc Boldt is a Republican,” Crain said. “It doesn’t matter to us if he ran as a ‘no party preference,’ he’s a Republican and everyone knows he’s a Republican.”
Boldt said it was welcome news to receive the endorsement.
“The people running the main county party, if you ask me, they are just doing what David Madore tells them to do,” Boldt said.
Boldt said former Clark County Republican Party chairs have also conveyed their support to him.
Put it together, Boldt said, “and it makes a difference.”
Madore was defeated in his bid for the newly created elected chairman’s role. His role in Pike’s race is unclear, but he has a large war chest he’s used to contribute to campaigns he supports, including more than $240,000 to his own failed campaign this year.
A political action committee to support Pike, Write In Liz Pike for County Chair, has been registered with the Public Disclosure Commission. There are no contribution limits for PACs.
Kenny Smith, the current Clark County Republican Chair, said the party was faced with dilemma when a Republican candidate failed to make it past the primary.
“The write-in campaign is a pretty exciting solution,” Smith said.
If Pike is elected, it would be a “wonderful story we would tell for the next couple of decades,” Smith said.
“She would be by far the best leader for the county, I don’t think anybody would debate that,” he said.
Smith said he’s never seen any evidence Boldt has acted or voted like a Republican.
“I wonder what would have happened if we would have endorsed Marc Boldt,” Smith said, adding he was not speaking for the entire party but for himself only. “They (so-called establishment Republicans) would have done something else.”
Christian Berrigan, the local party’s state committeeman, who has been the chief proponent of the write-in campaign, said he doesn’t know how Republicans could support Boldt. Berrigan said Bodt’s past shows he’s supported raising taxes and endorsed a Democrat. In 2011, the local Republican party voted to censure Boldt for actions they deemed out of line with the party.
“I think they are voting for friendship or past relationships or access or influence,” Berrigan said.
When asked whether it supports the Liz Pike write-in campaign, the Washington State Republican Party said it does not weigh in on local races.
“We don’t get involved in county races,” said Steve Beren, the party’s spokesman. “We are not for, we are not against (the write-in campaign). We are not involved. It would not be right to say we’re opposed and it would not be right to say we are in favor. County, city, school boards, that’s handled by the Republican organizations, people, voters in the county; controversial, boring, whatever, we’re not involved.”
Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, who at one time contemplated a race for the county chair, said she won’t be writing Pike in on her ballot.
“For now, I’m going to observe the will of the people and make my selection between the two candidates the voters chose for the general election,” Rivers said.
The Republicans of Clark County PAC made other endorsements as well, including Bill Turlay for Vancouver City Council and Julie Olson for the District 2 Clark County council seat.