On his campaign tour of more than two dozen Washington cities, Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Bryant posed a trick question to supporters.
“Who do you think elected Jay Inslee?” Bryant asked volunteers at the Clark County Republican Party headquarters Sunday evening. It wasn’t just Democrats, he said.
There were more than 100,000 voters in the 2012 election who would have picked Inslee’s Republican opponent Rob McKenna but who didn’t vote, Bryant said. McKenna lost to Inslee, a Democrat, by about 94,000 votes.
In a way, “Republicans elected Jay Inslee,” Bryant said.
His campaign bus stopped in Clark County to thank and energize supporters, and to encourage Republicans to vote in Tuesday’s primary election.
Ballots in the primary must be postmarked by Tuesday, or left in a ballot drop box by 8 p.m. Tuesday. As of Friday, the Clark County Elections Office had received 34,873 ballots from voters — about 13 percent of the ballots sent to eligible voters in the county.
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County officials predict a 30 percent turnout in the primary. Statewide, officials predict a turnout of about 40 percent, which is on par with past presidential-year primaries.
Bryant also stressed the importance of voting in each race on the ballot, giving a nod to other candidates gathered at the GOP headquarters: Michael Waite, who’s running for state treasurer, and incumbent state Reps. Paul Harris, R-Vancouver, and Brandon Vick, R-Felida.
“We can affect the outcome of this election if only we vote and get people to vote,” Bryant said.
The 56-year-old Seattle resident is one of several candidates running to unseat Inslee. Two other gubernatorial candidates also prefer the Republican party but don’t appear to be running serious campaigns, Clark County GOP Chairman Kenny Smith said.
In an interview with The Columbian, Bryant took questions about a few local issues.
He declined to say whether, if governor, he would approve or deny the oil terminal proposed for the Port of Vancouver, adding that he would wait until the state’s siting council issued its review of the project.
“We have very strict environmental laws in Washington state, and I want to make sure we uphold those laws, but any project that can meet our environmental standards should be approved,” he said of oil projects in general.
Bryant blamed Inslee for the failure of the Columbia River Crossing project, which would have replaced the Interstate 5 Bridge, because Inslee insisted on supporting light rail as part of the project, he said. Bryant said the bridge should be replaced, traffic problems north and south of the bridge must be fixed, and leaders should find a transit option “that people want to use.”
On affordable housing, he said he would orchestrate collaboration between local municipalities across the state that are working to make housing less expensive and reduce homelessness. He also wants to examine state regulations that may affect housing costs, he said.
Bryant is chairman of Bryant Christie Inc., which helps farmers export crops by giving them information about foreign regulations and markets. He accused Inslee of running a “Bainbridge to Bellevue” administration, focusing too much on the needs of the Puget Sound area and ignoring other parts of the state.
Democrats have criticized Bryant, meanwhile, for not saying whether he supports Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Democrats were ready to draw similarities between Bryant and Trump on Sunday, as demonstrators from the party protested outside the county’s GOP headquarters, holding signs that said “No Trump No Bryant” and “No hate in WA state.”
Protester Marsha Manning said she wants Bryant to disavow Trump, and she hopes he never endorses him.
“We don’t think anybody should,” she said.
Bryant shook hands with the eight or so protesters and thanked them for “being part of the process.”
Bryant also stopped in Longview earlier Sunday and will wrap up his bus tour tomorrow in Lewis County, where he was born.
Inslee also hit the campaign trail on Sunday with stops in Central Washington.