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Jerry Cornfield | jcornfield@heraldnet.com
Published: Saturday, January 28, 2012, 5:09 p.m.

GOP field clears for Koster in congressional race

Republican Snohomish County Councilman John Koster woke up this morning as the only GOP candidate vying for the 1st Congressional District seat.

That's because Kirkland Republican James Watkins quit the race Friday and threw his support to Koster.

And on Thursday, the other Republican who had been seeking the position, Greg Anders of Bellingham, ended his campaign. Anders did not immediately endorse Koster.

Watkins' decision probably surprised a few folks since he spent Thursday evening in Seattle debating several of the Democratic candidates battling for the seat to be vacated by U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wa.

Watkins, who got walloped by Inslee in 2010, made the announcement in Ocean Shores where Republicans from around the state gathered for the Roanoke Conference.

In his statement, Watkins said:

“It's time to put our Country first, and personal ambitions second. If we're going to restore a good, effective government, we've got to work together,”

“Several weeks ago, I heard a venomous radio ad from a Republican Presidential Candidate attacking a fellow candidate – it was revolting. But it did cause me to reevaluate my goals in running for Congress. And while I have a heart to serve, this has never been about me. It's always been about sending a common sense, fiscally conservative champion to Washington DC so our children have a fighting chance at a better life.”

“I find it ironic that in 2012 we'll be facing several millionaire Democrats for the privilege of representing working Washingtonians – and they've shown they're willing to spend their millions to buy a Congressional seat. In my view, the only way to win this seat for fiscally conservative Washingtonians is to unite behind a single candidate RIGHT NOW. So today, I'm withdrawing from the race and will support and endorse John Koster.”


In addition to Koster, there are six Democrats and an Independent still in the race.

The Democrats are Suzan DelBene of Medina, Darcy Burner of Carnation, state Sen. Steve Hobbs of Lake Stevens, state Rep. Roger Goodman of Kirkland, Laura Ruderman of Kirkland and Darshan Rauniyar of Bothell.

Also, Larry Ishmael of Kirkland is running as an Independent. Ishmael twice ran as a Republican against Inslee.

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