Health overhaul invigorates GOP candidates in Washington state

The OlympianMarch 29, 2010 

Republican candidates running in the fall elections urged party activists Saturday to help them rein in federal and state spending, cut taxes, protect rights and fight off the "socialism" some fear has been ushered in by the recent health care reforms.

But no issue — or personality — reverberated as deeply or loudly as state Attorney General Rob McKenna and his effort to overturn the Democrat-controlled Congress' health reforms by joining a federal court lawsuit. During Saturday morning's Thurston County Republican convention, a slew of Republicans running for U.S. Senate, U.S. House, the state Legislature and other offices were quick to hitch their wagon to the legalistic one McKenna hopes to ride to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"In the face of overwhelming opposition, these big-government progressives force-fed their socialistic vision of health care down the collective throats of the American people," said David Castillo, an Olympia financial planner and former Homeland Security appointee who is running for the 3rd District seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Brian Baird. "This will not stand. And we can remain silent no more."

"That is one of the biggest swipes at individual liberty that we have seen," agreed Jaime Herrera, a state representative from Camas who is running against Castillo and three Democrats. "This is very dangerous, folks. It is time for a true change."

And to say McKenna lit up the convention, held at Olympia High School, is an understatement. McKenna jolted the more than 90 delegates and 10 alternates to their feet several times with a speech defending his lawsuit against majority Democrats' attacks.

McKenna, who later spoke during a Capitol rally in support of his lawsuit and is considered a strong candidate for governor in 2012, predicted legal victory in the suit he and attorneys general from 12 other states have filed. Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire is considering what legal countermoves she might make.

"When you talk about the theme that gets people mad, he is at the center with that court case," Thurston GOP Chairman Scott Roberts said of McKenna. "He has completely galvanized the base. And quite frankly, I think that base was probably waning from him a bit in the past year."

"The overarching theme to me is fiscal responsibility and limited government," Roberts said. "I hear that over and over and over again. Government is not treating individual rights and being responsible."

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