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News / Northwest

State legislator is latest to jump in race for McMorris Rodgers’ seat

By Jerry Cornfield, Washington State Standard
Published: February 23, 2024, 10:55am

State Rep. Jacquelin Maycumber launched a bid for Congress on Tuesday, joining a growing crowd of Republicans looking to succeed U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers when she retires next year.

Maycumber, a Republic resident and state lawmaker since 2017, said in a statement that she’ll focus on “ensuring our nation’s safety by securing our borders, thereby protecting our economy and communities from the threats of human trafficking and the influx of narcotics like fentanyl.”

She also vowed to fight against removal of four dams on the lower Snake River in eastern Washington due to their “significant role” in providing hydroelectric power, irrigation and transportation.

In December, the Biden administration announced a deal with four tribes in the region and the states of Oregon and Washington to restore salmon populations in the river. Critics say it clears the way for eventual removal of the dams. Supporters emphasize that breaching the dams would require congressional approval.

McMorris Rodgers, a Republican, announced earlier this month that she would not seek re-election in the 5th Congressional District that she has represented for nearly two decades.

The district, bordered by Canada in the north, Oregon in the south and Idaho on the east, encompasses the 10 counties of Spokane, Ferry, Stevens, Pend Oreille, Lincoln, Whitman, Walla Walla, Columbia, Garfield, and Asotin, along with parts of Adams and Franklin counties.

Maycumber is the third Republican to enter the contest.

John Guenther, who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in 2022, got in last week. He had a campaign going against Democratic U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, and raised nearly $6,000 by the end of 2023, but switched races following McMorris Rodgers’ announcement.

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Ferry County Commissioner Brian Dansel is also a candidate. Dansel won a seat on the county board in 2010, went on to serve in the state Senate before former President Donald Trump named him state executive director of the Farm Service Agency in the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Dansel returned to the commission in January when he was appointed to fill a vacancy. He said his “wide range of experience” in local, state and federal government “would lend itself well to the people of eastern Washington.”

“We’ve been advocated to a lot. We need someone to go in and advocate for us,” he said. As far as his ties with Trump, he said, “I don’t apologize for that at all.”

More Republican candidates are expected.

Michael Baumgartner, Spokane County treasurer and a former Washington state senator, said Tuesday he’ll make his decision known soon.

“We are receiving overwhelming support to run and could likely make an announcement early next week,” he said in a text.

On X, formerly Twitter, he listed several likely “campaign co-chairs” including Senate Minority Leader John Braun, R-Centralia, Spokane Valley Sen. Mike Padden and Dino Rossi, a former state senator who narrowly lost the 2004 race for governor.

Former Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward and ex-state representative Matt Shea are also said to be weighing their options with the race.

Filings with the Federal Election Commission show three Democrats – Ann Marie Danimus, Carmela Conroy and Dr. Bernadine Bank – are in the race.

Danimus, a local small business owner who ran for the seat in 2022, has raised the most money among Democrats thus far with $103,575. Conroy, a former Spokane County deputy prosecutor and leader of the county’s Democratic Party, hauled in $72,270 as of the end of 2023. Bank, a gynecologist, began her campaign in mid-January.

Maycumber, in her announcement, touts her legislative work to expand apprenticeship programs for high school students, improve services for veterans and lower the cost of prescription drugs, including supporting a cap on the price of insulin.

“I succeed in a partisan Olympia by putting principles above politics with an unsurpassed level of integrity and work ethic,” she said in the statement.

Maycumber’s list of early endorsers includes Sen. Shelly Short and Rep. Joel Kretz, her seatmates in the 7th Legislative District, several local sheriffs, two firefighter locals and Kalispel Tribe of Indians.

Candidate filing for the seat is in May. The two candidates with the most votes in the August primary will face off in the November general election.

The Washington State Standard is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news outlet that provides original reporting, analysis and commentary on Washington state government and politics. We seek to keep you informed about Washington’s most pressing issues, the decisions elected leaders are making, how they are spending tax dollars and who is influencing public policy.