Davis joins GOP race for senator - Chairman says candidate won't get support from party



Olympia, WA - Former King County Republican Party Chairman Reed Davis said Tuesday he will challenge U.S. Sen. Patty Murray in the 2004 election, joining Congressman George Nethercutt of Spokane as the two GOP challengers.

The state Republican Party backs Nethercutt as the only viable candidate, and Davis has "zero" party support, state party Chairman Chris Vance said.

Although Democrats might welcome Davis' run as a way to split GOP support and dilute fund- raising for Nethercutt, Vance predicted Davis will have no effect on Nethercutt's chances.

Murray, a Democrat from Shoreline, is seeking her third term and had $2.4 million in cash on hand as of June 30, federal reports show. Davis had $1,300 and Nethercutt $403,000.

Davis, 49, is an associate professor of governmental affairs and political science at Seattle Pacific University. He holds a doctorate in government and foreign affairs and describes himself as a "Reagan Republican."

He served four terms as King County chairman from 1994 to 2002, but finished last in a four-way fight for the state party chairmanship two years ago.

"I think Washington desperately needs a senator who will champion our small businesses, our family businesses," Davis said in a campaign announcement posted on his Web site.

Davis could not be reached immediately to comment further, but his Web statement went on to suggest that Murray's tenure has helped make the Northwest a less attractive place to do business.

"When I'm elected to represent our great state, I promise Washington residents my focus will be on economic security, homeland security and individual security," Davis said. "Jobs for every member of every family, securing our borders and protecting our civil liberties will be my priorities."

Democrats took a swipe at Vance and the GOP over their apparent anointing of Nethercutt.

"Washington state has never been a place where party bosses pick candidates in smoke-filled back rooms," Democratic Party spokeswoman Kirstin Brost said. "And we look forward to a vigorous debate of the issues in the contested Republican primary."

As for whether Davis' run weakens Nethercutt, she said: "I think that remains to be seen."

In a sign Davis faces an uphill fight, his former King County GOP colleagues endorsed Nethercutt on Monday night, according to Vance.

Davis has a Web site at www.reeddavisforsenate.com, and a toll-free number, 877-DAVIS-04.


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