Inslee challengers look to curb spending

Incensed by recent patterns of government spending, three candidates have stepped up to challenge U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.). Republicans Matthew Burke and James Watkins, and an independent candidate, David Schirle, are on the Aug. 17 primary ballot with Inslee.

  • Thursday, July 15, 2010 6:26pm
  • News

Incensed by recent patterns of government spending, three candidates have stepped up to challenge U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.).

Republicans Matthew Burke and James Watkins, and an independent candidate, David Schirle, are on the Aug. 17 primary ballot with Inslee.

The two candidates with the most votes move on to the general election in November. But the three candidates aren’t only competing with Inslee. With only two spots available for the general election, and Inslee winning more than two-thirds of the vote in the last two elections, odds favor him advancing. That would leave only one spot for the remaining three candidates. Watkins, at this point, thinks he’s the favorite.

“The people that we talk to jointly agree that I’m the candidate that should face Jay Inslee,” he said.

But Burke and Schirle believe they’re still in the race. Schirle sees himself as a breath of fresh air outside of a tired two-party system that has failed to deliver results.

Burke believes he offers real financial knowledge from his many years as a financial advisor and planner. Watkins, who touted the cost-cutting measures he helped implement while at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, also claims to be the most financially knowledgeable of the candidates, something Burke took issue with.

“He was a bureaucrat 15 years ago with the FDIC; that’s not financial expertise,” Burke said. “I work one-on-one with people trying to save their money to navigate all the road blocks D.C. puts in front of them.”

Inslee’s three opponents all said they didn’t want to run for office, but they felt compelled to stop out-of-control government spending.

“It’s gotten so large it’s incapable of fixing the problems we have,” said Schirle, the Lynnwood-based independent candidate. “I definitely see that neither party will fix it. Republicans, Democrats, it doesn’t matter; they’re both spending money like an 18-year-old kid who just got a VISA card.”

But Inslee, going for his seventh term, has repeated that he refused to sign on to big spending projects when they aren’t merited. Inslee voted against the 2009 bill to bail out the failing Wall Street banks under the rationale that it wasn’t the right way to fix the economic problems.

Thus far, Inslee’s message has motivated people to donate.

The latest contribution figures from the Federal Election Commission website show Inslee with a big lead. Though the report was released at the end of June, Inslee had more than $900,000 in contributions.

Watkins was the second leading fundraiser with just over $216,000 and Burke about $50,000. Schirle had yet to file a report. He said he would take individual donations but refused to accept money from Political Action Committees, so as to avoid interaction with lobbyists or special interests. According to the website, Burke accepted $20 from “other political committees,” which includes PACs, while Watkins took $2,000. According to the website, Inslee has received $350,000 from the “other committees” category.

For more information on the candidates, visit the Washington Secretary of State Online Voter Guide at

1st Congressional District

Historically, Inslee’s six-term service has been an anomaly for the district, which has voted primarily Republican for the last half-century. Republicans controlled the seat from 1952 to 1992 before future Sen. Maria Cantwell was elected that year. She lost her re-election bid to Rick White, who served until 1998. Inslee unseated White by less than 12,000 votes in 1998. Since he was elected, Inslee’s popularity has grown steadily, and he has garnered at least 60 percent of the vote in the last three elections.

Inslee’s past election results

2008: Jay Inslee (D), 233,780 (67.8 percent); Larry Ishmael (R), 111,240

2006: Jay Inslee, 163,832 (67.7 percent); Larry Ishmael, 78,105

2004: Jay Inslee, 204,121 (62.3 percent); Randy Eastwood (R), 117,850; Charles Moore (Libertarian), 5,798

2002: Jay Inslee, 114,087 (55.6 percent); Joe Marine (R), 84,696; Mark B. Wilson (L), 6,251

2000: Jay Inslee, 155,820 (54.6 percent); Dan McDonald (R), 121,823; Bruce Newman (L), 7,993

1998: Jay Inslee, 112,726 (49.8 percent); Rick White (R), 99,910; Bruce Craswell (American Heritage Party), 13,837

Source: Office of the Clerk of U.S. House of Representatives

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