'Conservative Republican' sets sights on Murray's post

By M. L. Madison
The Daily News

Feb 18, 2004

Maple Valley, WA - A self-proclaimed "conservative Republican," Reed Davis disagrees with his own party on deficit spending, political organizing and parts of the Patriot Act.

He welcomed Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., when he came to the state during a presidential run in 2000, although then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush had all but snagged the party's nomination.

No surprise, then, that the political science professor, who's challenging U.S. Sen. Patty Murray this year, isn't afraid of being called a maverick.

"Can you include that word in your story?" joked Davis, 50, in an editorial board meeting with The Daily News on Tuesday.

The former chairman of the King County Republican Party and a one-time contender for the state's GOP chairman, Davis says he "wants his Republican revolution back."

"We're supposed to be the party of fiscal responsibility," he said, lamenting large deficits and stating that the Social Security system should be reformed.

Davis also criticized his only primary opponent, Rep. George Nethercutt, R-Spokane, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee.

"As one columnist said, the committee has doled out enough pork to bend space and time," Davis said. "George (Nethercutt) has gone on the record saying the deficit isn't a problem. I want to go on the record saying, the deficit is a huge problem."

Nethercutt, who ousted former House Speaker Tom Foley in 1994, is giving up his congressional seat to challenge Murray, D-Wash., who completes her second term this fall. Davis said Murray "has worked honorably," but said he "didn't think she's shown much leadership."

"I would question what he means by that," countered Murray's press secretary, Alex Glass on Tuesday. "Sen. Murray is the ranking member of the transportation appropriations subcommittee, and she has gotten over $236 million for the state in the transportation bill that just passed Congress."

Nethercutt's campaign could not be reached.

The state Republican party has endorsed Nethercutt, but Davis, who entered the race last August, said he's hoping to pull a John Kerry-like comeback.

"Anything can happen in politics," he said. "I still have Kiplinger's newsletters saying, 'Dean has it in the bag!' Now, no one can spell 'Dean.'"

Davis said he supports the open primary, and opposes a "Cajun-style" primary, the kind used in Louisiana, that's being favored by state Chairman Chris Vance. He said that type of primary, where delegates, rather than voters, choose the nominee, "vindicates all of the criticisms people have had for party control."

"I would never presume that 1,500 people could choose for the other 1.5 million," he said, referring to the state's Republican voters.

Davis is pro-life, supported the war in Iraq, and said he thinks "we're safer now" because of it.

But he said he has "grave concerns" about civil liberties, quoting sections of the Patriot Act that he disagreed with. Passed in 2001 after the terrorist attacks, the Patriot Act gave the government expanded powers of search and seizure, and many Democrats are now calling for a revision. President Bush has said he'll veto any changes to the act.

Davis, who teaches at Seattle Pacific University, lives with his wife and two children in Maple Valley.



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