A dozen Libertarian candidates filed to run for state House positions this week, pledging to put their party back on the state map after a few years of invisibility.
A few of the candidates went together to the Capitol on Friday to register their candidacies.
Steven Nielson, an Orting resident running against Republican Rep. J.T. Wilcox of Yelm in the 2nd District — which overlaps the Thurston-Pierce county line — led the charge. He was among the many third-party or alternative candidates who got into the action on the final day of filing.
“Libertarians are going to win. We’ve got a group of candidates who are here to take this state back,” Nielson, a quality engineer in the aerospace industry, told supporters inside the state Capitol. “We want to limit the government role in our wallets and our bedroom. We’re here to free Washington’s voters.”
The 12 Libertarians who filed are mounting challenges around the state, in places such as Spokane, Mead, Vancouver, Longview, Sequim, Redmond, Seattle and Bellingham.
Libertarians won major party status in Washington in 2000 when three of their statewide candidates received at least 5 percent of the vote, permitting them nearly automatic access to the November ballot. But few third-party candidates have gotten that far since the state’s top-two primary system took effect in 2008, allowing only two finalists to compete in the final round.
Filing week ended Friday afternoon, although special filing periods will be held in any districts that failed to attract any candidates.
By day’s end, Nielson wasn’t the only alternative to Wilcox for voters in the 2nd. Rick Payne of Graham filed, identifying himself with the Marijuana Party.
And Democrat Greg Hartman of Orting filed to run in the 2nd District’s other House race against first-year Rep. Graham Hunt, a Republican from Orting. Hartman ran for the House in 2012 and lost.
Another incumbent getting a last-minute challenge is Puyallup Republican Rep. Hans Zeiger, who’s seeking his third term in the 25th District. He faces Eric Renz, a Puyallup Democrat who leads adult education ministries at First Presbyterian Church of Puyallup.
Several Tacoma challengers filed on the final day, including two against Rep. Laurie Jinkins, a Democrat running for a third term. Republican real-estate agent Rodger Deskins challenged Jinkins in the heavily Democratic 27th District. Also filing was Robert Hill, a perennial candidate and convicted felon sometimes known as the Traveller.
Micah Anderson filed late Thursday to run in the 27th against Rep. Jake Fey, a Democrat seeking a second term. Anderson identified as preferring the Framer Party. He and Fey also face Steven Cook, a Republican. All three men are from Tacoma.
Independent Kevin Heiderich entered a crowded race for an open seat in the mostly suburban 28th District. Heiderich has worked for a software company and for businesses related to medical marijuana, including one making cannabis-infused food.
He joins two Republicans, school board member Paul Wagemann of Lakewood and restaurateur Monique Valenzuela Trudnowski of University Place, and two Democrats, school board president Christine Kilduff of University Place and John Connelly of Lakewood, who has worked as a bricklayer and hospital orderly and now is in sales.
Bonney Lake’s Lynda Messner filed as a Democrat against Auburn Republican Sen. Pam Roach, who also faces Enumclaw Republican Rep. Cathy Dahlquist and Enumclaw Democrat Lane Walthers.
Among last-day filers in federal races was Jennifer Gigi Ferguson of Lakewood. She filed as an Independent Party candidate in the 10th Congressional District, which runs from Olympia to Shelton, Puyallup and University Place. Ferguson ran as a socially conservative Democrat in 2012 but lost in the primary.
Already filed were U.S. Rep. Denny Heck, D-Olympia, Pierce County Council member Joyce McDonald, R-Puyallup, and Human Rights Party candidate Sam Wright of Olympia.
In the 6th Congressional District that includes Tacoma and the Olympic Peninsula, Douglas Milholland of Port Townsend filed as a Green Party candidate. Already filed were first-term Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, Republican Marty McClendon of Gig Harbor and W. McPherson of Port Angeles, who listed no party preference.
U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, D-Bellevue, added two new challengers in addition to Seattle Democrat Don Rivers in the left-leaning 9th Congressional District. They are Mark Greene of Bellevue, identifying with the Citizens Party, and a Republican, Doug Basler of Kent.