Clark County voters could see a familiar match-up on their November ballots: Tim Probst versus Don Benton.
In 2012, the two were pitted against each other for the 17th Legislative District Senate seat, with Benton winning by a narrow margin.
This time around, Probst said, voters appear to be ready to approve less-divisive candidates.
With the recent race for the Clark County council chair, Probst noted, both of the two successful candidates ran on unifying platforms.
“I think everybody is tired of the division locally and everyone is ready to rally around unifying leadership instead of divisive leadership,” he said.
Probst served as a state representative from 2009 to 2013. In 2012, he gave up his House seat to run against Benton, losing by 76 votes.
Probst considers himself a moderate Democrat, opposed to tax increases and in favor of bolstering the middle class.
“I worked for a Republican governor; I’m a proud Democrat. My Mom is a Democrat; my Dad is a Republican. I don’t think people are good or bad because of one party or the other. We need to work together,” he said.
Probst attended the University of Notre Dame, graduating with a degree in government and international relations. He worked for Republican Gov. Jim Edgar of Illinois. He is now the director of workforce development strategic initiatives for the Employment Security Department.
One of his proudest achievements while serving in the state Legislature was the creation of the Opportunity Scholarships to help students pay for college. More than 10,000 scholarships have been awarded, and the state’s business community has contributed more than $60 million, according to his campaign.
Probst said he’s determined to run a positive campaign.
“I want to be clear: I’m not running against anyone,” he said. “I’m putting forward a positive message, and I’m running for unifying the people.”
Both Republicans, Democrats and independents will be part of his political campaign staff advising him on the issues, he said.
His two priorities are unifying the people and bolstering the middle class. Probst declined to give more specific campaign platforms and said he will release them in the upcoming weeks.
Benton confirmed that he will seek re-election.
“If you don’t like the fact that we haven’t raised taxes in four years and reduced college and university tuition, you probably shouldn’t vote for me, because my election made those things possible,” Benton said.
Benton noted the Republican’s majority in the Senate is slim.
“A lot of people like the idea that Republicans blocked some of the crazy ideas of this governor, where the House just rubber stamps them,” Benton said. “If you want the Senate to be a rubber stamp for his proposals, you should vote for Tim Probst. But if you like checks and balance in your government, then I would hope you would vote for me.”
Brent Ludeman, executive director of the Senate Republican Campaign Committee, said Probst has failed to keep his campaign promises in the past.
“During his time in Olympia, Probst voted the party line more than 93 percent of the time and was a member of liberal Seattle Speaker Frank Chopp’s ‘kitchen cabinet.’ Probst does not stand for the middle class; he voted to slash education funding and to increase college tuition costs. Tim Probst is not who he says he is,” Ludeman wrote.