Nethercutt eyes U.S. Senate, Washington governor seats

David Ammons; The Associated Press
The News Tribune, Tacoma, WA

Republican U.S. Rep. George Nethercutt, the "giant killer" best known for ousting a sitting speaker of the House, has his eye on not one, but two other powerful Democrats.

He said Monday that he may take on U.S. Sen. Patty Murray or Gov. Gary Locke next year.

Nethercutt, who ousted Speaker Tom Foley in the 5th District in the Republican landslide of 1994, said he's being encouraged by party leaders to pursue higher office next year. He said he has made no "up-or-out" decision to leave his safe congressional seat, but is definitely intrigued.

Nethercutt said he wouldn't challenge fellow GOP Rep. Jennifer Dunn if she decides to take on Murray.

"I don't know if she'll do it or not, but I would support her," he said in an interview sandwiched between appearances at the state Capitol. "I've made it clear that I think she would be a great candidate and I would encourage her to run.

"I don't see the sense of a Republican primary."

Dunn has been urged by the White House and state and national GOP leaders to challenge Murray, with the understanding that Nethercutt would be a strong backup candidate if she declines. Dunn says she's months away from making a decision.

Nethercutt said it's clear that he'll be pressured to run if Dunn doesn't. He said he hasn't committed to do that, and is testing the waters right now. He said he's accepting invitations to county GOP groups all over the state.

Nethercutt said he's also giving thought to running for governor. The party has no announced candidates for an office Republicans haven't won since 1980.

Nethercutt said he doesn't know whether Locke or Murray would be easier to beat.


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