By Jerry Cornfield Herald Writer
EVERETT — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie delivered a pep talk to Republican Party volunteers in Everett on Thursday, saying the phone calls they make and the doors they knock on in the next month are critically important to getting Rob McKenna elected governor.
“The way we’re going to win this election is all you,” Christie told roughly 175 people packed into the party’s Victory Center downstairs from Shawn O’Donnell’s restaurant, a leading GOP watering hole.
Christie and McKenna dropped by the GOP office shortly before 4 p.m. on their way to a private $150-a-person fundraiser at the Embassy Suites in Lynnwood. Earlier in the day, the two visited volunteers in Kennewick for a similarly priced private event.
When they arrived in Everett, they were greeted by Snohomish County Councilman John Koster, a Republican candidate for Congress, while outside a handful of sign-waving Democrats stood on the sidewalk next to the parking lot driveway.
A jacketless Christie said as much as donors’ checks are appreciated, volunteers are doing invaluable work because they are delivering McKenna’s message directly to thousands of voters.
He called them the “more powerful weapon” in politics, “even more powerful than a warm and charming automated phone call” from a guy like him.
Cathy Hawn, 65, of Edmonds took a break from phoning voters and squeezed into the room where Christie spoke for roughly 10 minutes.
“He’s a good man. He’s doing lots of stuff in his state that I hope we can do in this one,” she said after returning to the call center where she comes twice a week for up to six hours each time. “It’s absolutely important to be involved.”
Gunner Unneland, 81, of Edmonds, doesn’t work the phones. Instead he spends 10 to 12 hours a week knocking on doors and handing out campaign material for Republican candidates, including McKenna and Koster.
The native of Norway said Christie, whom he has seen on television, was more impressive in person. Unneland said he appreciated the New Jersey leader’s kudos and is motivated to do what he can this election “because I think we’re heading toward socialism.”
“I’ve lived under socialism and dictatorships in Norway,” he said. “It’s very critical to turn this country around because we’re heading toward insolvency.”
Thursday marked Christie’s second visit to Washington to stump for McKenna. He headlined a Republican event in Bellevue two days after the Aug. 7 primary in which McKenna, won is in his second term as attorney general, lost to the Democratic candidate, former Congressman Jay Inslee.
Christie praised McKenna on Thursday as a man of integrity and character who will be able to work collaboratively with Democrats.
Voters are tired of the scene in Congress where members are “posturing, posing and worrying about the next press release.”
Inslee, Christie said, is a “creature of Washington, D.C. Do you really want to bring Washington, D.C., politics to the state Capitol?”
The state Democratic Party issued a statement by state Rep. Marko Liias, D-Edmonds, criticizing Christie and McKenna for opposing Washington’s gay marriage law. Liias noted that Christie vetoed a marriage equality bill this year.
“Washington needs a governor who believes in equality for all Washingtonians, and Rob McKenna, based on his stated positions and his national friends, clearly would not be that governor,” Liias said.
Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; firstname.lastname@example.org