Republican state Rep. Jesse Young declined to criticize Democrat Larry Seaquist this week, even as Seaquist announced he would seek to unseat Young in November.
A fellow Democrat in the race, however, isn’t as restrained.
Alec Matias, a software company owner from Port Orchard, wrote on his campaign website this week that Seaquist had tried to dissuade him from running about six weeks ago, when Matias first announced his candidacy in the 26th Legislative District.
At that time, Seaquist — a former lawmaker who served four terms in the state House — had been campaigning to become state superintendent for public instruction, and wasn’t yet a candidate in the legislative race.
Matias, 32, said he thinks Seaquist’s “true intentions” might have been designed to get Matias out of the way so Seaquist could more easily jump into the legislative contest. Seaquist filed to run for the legislative seat Tuesday, suddenly dropping his bid for the state superintendent job.
Among other things, Matias said Seaquist told him in April he was “not conservative enough to win” in the 26th district, which includes Gig Harbor, Port Orchard and part of Bremerton.
The phrase ‘you’re not conservative enough to win’ is not acceptable advice to give to any Democratic candidate.
Alec Matias, a Democrat running for state House in the 26th Legislative District
“I’ll have to disagree with Mr. Seaquist, here: Democrats running on strong, progressive platforms are exactly the type of people we need in politics,” Matias wrote.
“I’m not sure why he changed his mind on where to run, but I do know this: the phrase ‘you’re not conservative enough to win’ is not acceptable advice to give to any Democratic candidate.”
Matias, who in a phone interview called himself a “fearless progressive,” said he thinks the district needs a candidate who’s better than a “compromising moderate” to represent its interests. He suggested Seaquist is looking to move his positions to the right because Seaquist lost his seat to a Republican — state Rep. Michelle Caldier — two years ago.
Seaquist, 77, said he never intended to push Matias to drop out. Seaquist maintains he only chose to run for the legislative seat this week, after House Speaker Frank Chopp called him Sunday to ask him to run.
I’m a liberal who believes bipartisanship will get the work done.
Democrat Larry Seaquist, former state lawmaker running for state House in the 26th Legislative District
Seaquist said he met with Matias in April simply to get to know him because he and other Democratic leaders knew little of the political newcomer before he announced his candidacy.
“What I was explaining to Alec is that this is a swing district ... Democrats who get elected in this district get elected with Republican votes,” Seaquist said.
Seaquist called himself “a progressive Democrat,” but said while in the House he worked to represent all of his constituents, which included Republican voters. He said Republicans and Democrats will have to work together next year to solve issues such as the state’s school-funding crisis.
“I’m a liberal who believes bipartisanship will get the work done,” Seaquist said Thursday.
A fourth candidate, Republican Bill Scheidler, also is looking to unseat Young. A primary election Aug. 2 will decide which two of the four candidates move on to the Nov. 8 general election.
Candidate filing for state, local and federal offices continues through Friday.