Nethercutt will get a GOP challenger

KENNETH P. VOGEL; The News Tribune


Though his party has coalesced behind another candidate, former King County Republican Party Chairman Reed Davis is set to announce today that he will seek the GOP nomination to run in 2004 for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democrat Patty Murray.

Last week, U.S. Rep. George Nethercutt (R-Spokane) officially entered the race, drawing sighs of relief and promises of support from state and national Republicans who see him as their best chance of blocking Murray (D-Shoreline) from a third term.

But Davis, 49, an associate professor of political science at Seattle Pacific University, said he'll cultivate grass-roots support by running as a "Reagan conservative" and focusing on economic issues, particularly those affecting small business.

A Pittsburgh native and father of two, Davis has never held elected office, but he said he wouldn't be running "if I didn't think I could beat George Nethercutt - if I didn't think I could beat Patty Murray."

Keep dreaming, said Chris Vance, who defeated Davis and three other candidates in 2001 to become chairman of the state Republican Party, which has already tendered a rare preprimary endorsement to Nethercutt .

"I hope Reed does the sensible thing and supports George Nethercutt. But if he doesn't, he will have absolutely no effect on this race," said Vance.

Early fund-raising figures, which analysts use to gauge candidate's viability, lend credence to Vance's assertions.

At the end of last month, Davis' committee reported to the Federal Election Commission that it had $1,300 in cash on hand, compared with $403,000 for Nethercutt and nearly $2.4 million for Murray.

Nethercutt spokeswoman April Gentry, an SPU graduate who took classes from Davis, said Monday that her boss had no comment on Davis' candidacy.

"Congressman Nethercutt tried to reach Reed Davis today," said Gentry. "Mr. Davis has not returned the congressman's phone call as of yet."

Kenneth P. Vogel: 360-754-6093


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