Clallam: DeFrang pulls out of GOP primary for county commissioner


Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES -- Clallam County Undersheriff Fred DeFrang on Tuesday abruptly ended his bid for fellow Republican Mike Chapman's District 2 county commissioners seat.

In a brief statement, the veteran sheriff's officer said:

``After careful consideration and review of changes in pre-existing obligations of responsibility, I have chosen to step aside and not run for the position of Clallam County commissioner at this time.''

Asked Tuesday night if he would consider a future run for county commissioner, DeFrang, 53, said, ``I'm not foreclosing anything.''

He declined to elaborate further on his statement, saying:

``I think it's just best to keep it short and simple.

``I have a responsible life, and changes that couldn't be predicted are what made me make my decision.''

Reacting to DeFrang's withdrawal, Chapman said:

``I'm still focused and looking forward to discussing the issues facing our county. I'm still running a campaign. It's still a month before filing.''

Chapman said he was still proceeding in his campaign as if a Democratic challenger was in the wings ready to run against him.

So far, no Democrat has come forward.

Chapman is seeking his second four-year term. He is a 40-year-old former U.S. Customs officer, decorated for chasing and tackling Ahmed Ressam after a foot chase through downtown Port Angeles in December 1999.

Ressam, an Algerian allegedly trained at one of Osama bin Laden's camps in Afghanistan, had escaped after driving off the MV Coho ferry from Victoria with 133 pounds of bomb-making materials in his car's trunk. Ressam intended to blow up Los Angeles International Airport, authorities said.

Sue Forde campaign

Chapman has raised more than $14,000 for this fall's campaign.

He defeated incumbent Democrat Carole Boardman in 2000 to join two Democrats on the three-member county board of commissioners.

DeFrang had raised about $2,000, according to campaign disclosure records.

After he announced in March that he would seek the District 2 (Port Angeles area) seat, Chapman said it appeared that the party challenge was connected to Chapman's refusal to endorse conservative Sequim businesswoman Sue Forde in last November's general election.

She ran unsuccessfully against Steve Tharinger, a Democrat who was elected to his second four-year commissioner term representing District 1 (Sequim area).

Though both are Republicans, Chapman said he did not agree with Forde's political philosophy, which he said leaned heavily toward libertarianism.

Forde is now chairwoman of the Clallam County Republican Women.

Chapman's lack of a Forde endorsement angered some county GOP conservatives.

DeFrang, however,said he wanted to make it clear that he decided to run not because of any ties with Forde and her supporters but "based on my long-standing interest in the position, my qualifications and my time in life."

(Balance of article can be read in the Peninsula Daily News archives)



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