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Thursday, June 1, 2023
June 1, 2023

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Some GOP lawmakers from region mum ahead of county convention

Few willing to declare who they want to win their party's nomination

By , Columbian Political Writer

Southwest Washington’s Republican lawmakers know who they don’t want to see in the Oval Office next year: Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. But some were reticent to declare who they want to win their party’s presidential nomination, despite the Clark County convention being only a day away.

“I haven’t taken a position. I look forward to supporting whoever is the nominee,” said state Rep. Liz Pike, R-Camas.

When asked directly if she liked Donald Trump, she responded, “I will never support a socialist or someone as untrustworthy as Hillary.”

“I will say this,” Pike continued, “it’s been a fascinating study in civics watching this primary season unfold … and what that tells me is people are sick of politicians who say one thing to get elected and say something else after they are elected.”

State Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, said he will be sending an announcement Saturday on whom he supports.

State Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, said she’s not paying attention to the presidential primary.

“I was at first, but got a little disgusted by the antics of the candidates,” Rivers wrote in an email. “I’ll wait and see who makes it to the final.”

Rivers added that if legislators don’t adjourn on time, she might be in Olympia for the convention.

“I’m anxious to see who Clark County Republicans support, though,” she wrote.

The county convention will be Saturday at the Clark County Event Center at the Fairgrounds. Local party members will discuss their platform, and local contacts for presidential campaigns will be at the event. Delegates to the state convention, scheduled for May 19-21 in Pasco, will also be chosen this weekend.

At the state convention, delegates to the GOP national convention, set for July 18-21 in Cleveland, will be chosen. At the national convention, the party formally chooses its nominees for president and vice president. The state party has previously decided to commit its delegates based entirely on the outcome of the statewide May 24 presidential primary election.

Republican state Rep. Lynda Wilson, also of Vancouver, said she will ultimately support the party’s nominee.

“If I get to go to the convention on Saturday, I’ll be going in undeclared, because I just don’t know,” she said. “Trump is opening up a lot of good conversations and he’s resonating with voters. I’m not really keen on his style. There are good things about the others, too.”

Paul Harris, who is a ranking Republican in the state House, said he’s “probably a (John) Kasich guy.”

“Do I think he’s going to make it? Probably not, honestly. … I will always back whoever the party sends out,” Harris said.

One of the more high-profile Republicans in the region, U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, is sticking by her early endorsement of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

“She still believes (Rubio) has a path to earning the GOP nomination and has no plans to shift her support to another candidate,” Herrera Beutler’s spokesman said.

Lauren Dake: 360-735-4534; twitter.com/LaurenDake; lauren.dake@columbian.com

Columbian Political Writer