Opinion: Running for office in Washington state

Nancy Churchill provides valuable information for those considering a run for elected office in Washington state.

Nancy Churchill provides valuable information for those considering a run for elected office in Washington state

Nancy Churchill 
Dangerous Rhetoric

This article is for anyone who wants to stop complaining and start making a difference in Washington state politics. Even if you don’t want to run for office, Washington state has some unique and interesting differences from other states that make a huge difference in our political outcomes. Understanding these differences will help you understand the results. It’s urgent for you to become involved in politics at any level you can sustain. 

Nancy Churchill
Nancy Churchill

What are the rules for candidates? 

If you want to be a candidate, your county auditor’s office has much of the information you need. I live in Ferry County, so the links in this article will be specific to Ferry. If you live in a different county, just visit your county auditor’s website and search for similar information. 

May is the time to run 

If you want to encourage someone qualified for a position to actually throw their hat in the ring, now is the time. Washington’s filing week in 2022 begins Mon., May 16 and ends Fri. May 20. If you miss filing week, you’ve missed running for office this year! 

Interestingly, candidates can declare their interest in running for office and begin fundraising long before filing week. For smaller local races, most candidates will wait for filing week. However, candidates for the federal races must start early. Tiffany Smiley, candidate for Senate against Patty Murray has been fundraising and campaigning for more than a year. 

What offices are open in 2022?  

County offices like auditor, assessor, clerk, sheriff, and others are on the ballot this year, as are all state representatives and some senators.  All the U.S. (federal) representatives will also be running, as well as one of our U.S Senate seats. County precinct committee officers will also be up for election.

While you are at the auditor’s website, look for a candidate election guide. This will provide all the current legal requirements that you need to know about being a candidate.  If your campaign is going to spend any money, even your own personal funds, you probably need to open an account with the Public Disclosure Commission. The campaign is financially separate from the individual, and there are reporting laws that must be followed. 

Partisan or non-partisan? 

If a position is partisan, the candidate must truthfully declare his or her political affiliation. Local political committees may actively recruit candidates to run for office, but they do not choose candidates, and they cannot restrict anyone from running for office. This puts the burden of vetting the candidate on the voters, rather than on the members of a political party.  

The role of the local party committee (“the party”) is to recruit great candidates, fundraise, and get out the vote. Recruiting and encouraging candidates to run is by far the most difficult task. I’ve seen promising candidates simply fail to file by the deadline of filing week. Even with strong encouragement, their doubts stopped them from running. Because we can have multiple Republican candidates in a primary, the party will not endorse one over the other unless there is a very, very good reason.  

It’s up to the individual candidate to raise campaign funds and work to persuade the voters that he or she is the best person for the position. For most local elections, the candidate is predominantly responsible for fundraising since the county committee will have many active campaigns to support.  

Candidates can lean on the county party to build a network of supporters. The local party is a great place to shake hands, meet people who really care about politics, build word-of-mouth support, find volunteers, and get campaign advice from committee leaders. Any funds raised by the county party usually go toward crucial get-out-the-vote activities, rather than to the benefit of one particular candidate. 

The role of the voters 

Due to Washington’s jungle primary system, to be competitive in a state race or legislative primary, Republican candidates must be able to address the concerns of many voters, not just those on the political right. A candidate who is a strong “America First” campaigner in a purple or blue-leaning area risks alienating voters in the political middle whose support is necessary to become one of the top-two winners of the August jungle primary. 

This is why it’s so important for voters to make an effort to meet and get to know the candidates. Know your core values, and make an effort to learn whether the candidate shares and will fight for those values. Get involved and stay involved. The more you participate in politics, the more you will influence the future of our country.  Get active early, in order to have more influence on our important August primary elections.  Otherwise, you’ll be complaining once again in November about the election results.  

Nancy Churchill is the state committeewoman for the Ferry County Republican Party. She may be reached at DangerousRhetoric@pm.me. The opinions expressed in Dangerous Rhetoric are her own. 

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