Stage Right: A Primary Challenger to Congressman Dan Newhouse

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With a boost from the Benton County Republican Party, veteran, ultra-conservative State Rep. Brad Klippert, R-Kennewick, is off and running with a primary challenge to 4th District Rep., and fellow Republican, Dan Newhouse. Klippert announced after Newhouse was one of 10 House Republicans to vote to impeach President Trump. The Eastern Washington Republican was back on the GOP reservation Thursday, voting against Democrats’ resolution to strip QAnon-aligned Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Georgia, of her committee assignments.

Declaring his candidacy, Klippert has come out strongly for the 2nd Amendment, has pledged to “defend” hydroelectric dams, favors a robust stock market and, coming from the Tri-Cities, declares:  “I believe in safe, affordable, clean base load nuclear energy.” Klippert is a Benton County Sheriff’s Deputy, best known for a proposal to elect the Governor of Washington using an electoral college system modeled on the national system and designed to give conservative Eastern Washington counties a much bigger voice.

Democrats have won 10 consecutive gubernatorial elections, thanks to big majorities in King County. Jay Inslee won in November by a margin of more than 500,000 votes. But GOP gubernatorial nominee Loren Culp carried 26 of the state’s 39 counties. Under Klippert’s plan, each county would get one electoral vote, ranging from King County with 1.43 million registered voters to Garfield County with 1,687.  The state’s redistricting commission would allocate another 108 electoral votes based on county populations.

“If I didn’t think it was fair and equitable for all voters of Washington, I wouldn’t have run the bill,” Klippert said on introducing his plan. As Jerry Cornfield noted in the Herald of Everett, “Had an electoral college-style system been in place in 2012, (Gov.) Inslee might not have beaten Republican Rob McKenna.”

Rep. Newhouse has Trump cultists mad at him, but he hails from the Yakima Valley, largest population center in the Central Washington district.  He is well known, and his father served three decades in the Legislature. He beat a far-right Tea Party Republican, Clint Didier, in 2014 to win his seat in Congress, and dispatched Didier again two years later. Aside from the courageous impeachment vote, prompted by the Jan. 6, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, Newhouse has been a very conventional Republican congressmember.

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I worked for Seattle Post-Intelligencer from 1973 until it ceased print publication in 2009, and SeattlePI.com from 2009 to 6/30/2020. During that time, I wrote about 9 presidential races, 11 Canadian and British Columbia elections‎, four doomed WPPSS nuclear plants, six Washington wilderness battles, creation of two national Monuments (Hanford Reach and San Juan Islands), a 104 million acre Alaska Lands Act, plus the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area.

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