As rain drizzled on Tanisha Harris near the corner of Northeast Fourth Plain Boulevard and Northeast 162nd Street in Vancouver, she couldn’t help but feel happy about the start to her Saturday.
Harris, a Democrat running for state representative in the 17th Legislative District, was standing less than 100 feet away from Gov. Jay Inslee, who was visiting Vancouver to sign-wave for Harris and Daniel Smith, who’s running for state Senate in the 17th District.
Inslee joined close to 60 other sign-wavers on a chilly, rainy Saturday morning to support the Clark County candidates.
“I am grateful and thankful,” said Harris, who is running against Republican incumbent Vicki Kraft. “Sometimes Southwest Washington, the Clark County area, we don’t get a lot of attention from people up north, but Clark County is so crucial to our economy in the state of Washington, especially with us being a border county to Portland, too. It’s important that people know and understand the issues facing Clark County.”
Smith, who is running against Republican incumbent Sen. Lynda Wilson, said he believes Inslee’s appearance is a statement about the magnitude of the 17th district races.
“People realize that this is an election that has significant consequences,” Smith said. “These are serious times. We have to have serious responses to them.”
On Saturday, Inslee stressed that he believes the 17th Legislative District races are critical to the entire state. That’s one reason why he trekked down to Clark County to support his fellow Democrats.
But Inslee also noted how fun in-person campaigning can be. Wearing a Seattle Seahawks jacket and a black mask, Inslee reminisced on his infant sign-waving days, when he first ran for legislative office in 1989 in Yakima.
Inslee said in-person campaign events are more “joyous and fun,” mentioning the coronavirus precautions in place Saturday — masks, an outdoor event and distance — made the gathering safe.
“Just smile and wave,” Inslee said of his sign-waving approach. “It’s not exactly rocket science, but I actually enjoy it because I’ve learned that you can actually establish a relationship with people when they are having their morning coffee. If you’re up at 6 a.m. in the rain, people understand you’re probably committed to being a serious worker.”
Harris also said community events are a favorite part of campaigning for her. In-person campaign events, while few and far between this year, have given energy to Harris. She felt like Inslee’s appearance displayed how important local elections are.
“It’s exciting to vote at the top of the ticket for president,” she said, “but local races have more of an impact on our everyday lives.”