County’s GOP foot soldier heads east to sell real estate

Through the years a conversation with Larry Stickney eventually evolves into a forthright pitch for his latest endeavor to spread conservative ideas.

These days the only product he’s putting his heart and soul into selling is real estate.

And he’s not doing it in Arlington, where he had encamped for nearly two decades, but in Colville, a small town north of Spokane where he quietly resettled with his family a few months ago.

You heard right. Stickney, one of the state’s most recognized town criers of conservatism, is taking a break from politics.

“I will keep a toe in the political waters,” he said this week. “Right now I just want to try to relax for a couple of years and see if I can actually make a living. I’m ready to be your man for real estate in northeast Washington.”

Stickney and his wife are now nearer her aging parents and he is spending more time with his three children still at home; four other children are grown.

It also will give the 55-year-old Stickney a chance to recharge and reflect after a stretch of strenuous ballot battles, all of which ended badly for his causes and candidates.

In 2009, he led the charge with Referendum 71 to repeal a state law granting same-sex couples all the rights and benefits of married couples except the ability to wed.

Much to his chagrin, voters upheld the law. Then he and others in the Protect Marriage Washington Coalition became locked in a high-stakes legal battle to keep the names of those who signed the referendum a secret. And he lost that, too.

The next year Stickney managed Snohomish County Councilman John Koster’s campaign for Congress against incumbent Democratic Rep. Rick Larsen, which resulted in defeat.

Stickney and Koster, who are close friends, teamed up again in 2012 to duel Democrat Suzan DelBene for the congressional seat vacated by the current governor, Jay Inslee. A different opponent did not bring a different result.

Then, in December, Stickney sought out the chairmanship of the Snohomish County Republican Party and came up a handful of votes short.

By February, he had relocated to a political clime better suited for one blessed with his bombast, bravado and beliefs.

His absence is noticeable, Koster said.

“Any time a person that has the passion that Larry has leaves the scene, it does leave a little bit of a void,” he said.

Stickney’s move from the edge of left-leaning Pugetopolis comes as the GOP leaders headquartered in Bellevue are recalibrating the party’s strategy for future contests.

No doubt a few of those GOP players welcome a break from Stickney who’s been a lightning rod for conflict in the party.

For his part, Stickney said he is glad to be farther from this maddening crowd which he views as wrongly trying to secularize the Republican Party rather than strengthen its roots among social conservatives.

But he’s not done with politics and even hopes Koster will make a run for Snohomish County executive in two years.

“If the right battle comes up again, I’ll be ready,” he said. “I just don’t know what it will be.”

Until then, he’s got an awesome log home he’d like to sell you.

Political reporter Jerry Cornfield’s blog, The Petri Dish, is at www.heraldnet.com. Contact him at 360-352-8623 or jcornfield@heraldnet.com.

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