MARYSVILLE — Like most local campaign offices, the Snohomish County Republican Party’s headquarters is tucked away in an unassuming cluster of storefronts, but it was bustling with activity when gubernatorial candidate Bill Bryant stopped by to join volunteers in calling voters July 20.
Bryant’s Marysville stop was part of a 23-city bus tour, during which he hopes to motivate Washingtonians to turn in their ballots for him for the Aug. 2 primary.
“Let me ask you, who elected Jay Inslee?” Bryant asked the volunteers, as they prepared to go to work on their cell phones. “The answer is Republicans, by not voting.”
Bryant reported that Republican Rob McKenna lost the governor’s race to Inslee by roughly 94,000 votes, then noted that close to 175,000 Republican voters didn’t file a ballot.
“The people in your lists are likely to vote for us, but they’re unlikely to vote in the first place, unless they get a little nudge,” Bryant said. “If they vote now, they’ll vote again in November.”
Bryant assured the volunteers that even if some of the phone numbers they called turned out to be bad, because of people moving or area codes changing, they were still doing productive work.
“We’d rather find out those numbers are no good now, in July, and have months to clean up our phone lists, then have it surprise us in October,” Bryant said.
Given the close contests between not only McKenna and Inslee in 2012, but also between Republican Dino Rossi and Gov. Christine Gregoire in 2004 and 2008, Bryant expressed confidence that tipping the vote by just a few percentage points will be enough to make the difference.
“Every vote matters,” Bryant said. “Snohomish County could decide the election.”
To that end, Bryant has paid attention to the concerns that the county’s voters have shared with him.
“Transportation and education are probably the two biggest issues that people here want to talk with me about,” said Bryant, who cited his commute to Marysville, which saw him arriving in town half an hour later than expected, as evidence of the traffic congestion. “We need to expand our available public transit options within years, not generations.”
Bryant likewise pointed to a personal example of his investment in education, recalling how he grew up in a rural school district not unlike many within this county.
“I received a good public education there, but now, the quality of your education can depend on what ZIP code you’re living in,” Bryant said. “The wealthy have more access to better education, which is not only unconstitutional, but is morally wrong. For four years, Jay Inslee has promised to address this situation, but done nothing about it. He says we deserve a plan. I say we deserve a governor who has a plan.”
Another issue of local concern is taxes.
“They’re seeing their taxes continue to go up, but they don’t feel like they’re getting as much value out of that money,” Bryant said. “We’re raking in billions of dollars of revenue, but our governor is still talking about collecting a carbon tax and an income tax. When is it going to be enough?”