Statehouse hopeful admits to flaunting old endorsement from top Republican

Republican statehouse candidate Phil Fortunato issued an apology late Tuesday for using an old endorsement in recent campaign material.

Former state Attorney General Rob McKenna endorsed Fortunato during the 2014 general election, a race Fortunato lost to Democratic Rep. Chris Hurst of Enumclaw.

But Fortunato, now running for the same seat in the 31st Legislative District, used McKenna’s endorsement in a campaign mailer recently even though McKenna hasn’t endorsed anyone in the 2016 primary.

McKenna, a onetime Republican candidate for governor, wrote a letter to the editor that appeared in Tuesday’s News Tribune. In it, McKenna said Fortunato was “well aware” he had not endorsed anyone in the race and that “he does not have permission to use that quote again this year.”

In a news release, Fortunato said he thought he had “taken the necessary steps to ensure that references to his general election endorsements were removed from my updated materials,” but said after reading McKenna’s letter, “it became clear that some went out in the mail anyway.”

Fortunato said it is his responsibility to make sure his campaign materials are accurate and apologized to McKenna and the other candidates in the race.

Hurst is retiring from the Legislature, and Fortunato is battling Republicans Pablo Monroy, Morgan Irwin and Democrat Lane Walthers for a spot in the general election.