Brian Sullivan to stay in crowded congressional race

Democratic Snohomish County Councilman Brian Sullivan said Monday he’s not giving up on his dream to serve in Congress.

He said he will remain a candidate in the special election to serve the final month of U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee’s term even though the field ballooned to 11 people last Friday, including five who want the job well into the future.

Sullivan filed Friday morning to run in the race to be decided by voters in the existing 1st Congressional District — which includes south Snohomish County, parts of King County and all of Kitsap County.

This special contest will coincide with the regular election of a representative to serve a two-year term in the district’s redrawn boundaries which stretch from Canada to Redmond and pass through Whatcom, Skagit and Snohomish counties.

Soon after Sullivan filed, the situation got complicated when five of the seven candidates battling for the two-year term jumped into the special election as well.

The last-minute arrival of Republican Snohomish County Councilman John Koster and four Democrats — Darcy Burner, Suzan DelBene, Laura Ruderman and Darshan Rauniyar — caused Sullivan to consider withdrawing.

“I’m staying in. This is my one chance to potentially serve in Congress or run for Congress,” said Sullivan of Mukilteo who is in his second term on the County Council. “I wrestled with it pretty hard. It was an easy decision to get in. It’s a hard decision to get out.”

State Democratic Party Chairman Dwight Pelz recruited Sullivan in hopes his candidacy would deter all the Democrats from entering the special election. Only Democrat Steve Hobbs — as well as independent Larry Ishmael — did not file to run in both races.

Pelz had no comment Monday on Sullivan’s decision.

Sullivan, a former Mukilteo councilman and mayor, said he thinks his base of voters is better than the other candidates and might be enough to win.

He said even if he loses, the election will give him a gauge of his political strength in south Snohomish County as he prepares for a possible run for county executive in 2015.

“It helps. It’ll be one of the cheapest polls I’ll ever pay for,” he said, noting he plans to put together a team early next year to take a “serious look” at the county executive race.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com.

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