EVERETT — Donald Trump started dishing out tickets Friday for his upcoming rally at the Xfinity Arena while others began developing their response to the visit of the Republican presidential nominee.
Law enforcement officials are prepping for the road closures and traffic headaches the 7 p.m. event Tuesday is certain to create.
Political opponents readied their strategy for demonstrations outside the city’s signature public venue.
Some Republican candidates checked their calendars to ensure they are otherwise engaged and unable to attend out of concern that an appearance with Trump could cost them votes.
One veteran GOP consultant questioned the purpose of Trump’s stopover since polling consistently shows Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton will likely win the state.
“I have no idea why he’s coming here. It is a big distraction,” said Chad Minnick of Monroe, whose managing several campaigns including two high profiles in central Snohomish County. “I’m sure his supporters are going to be happy to see him. But the state is not in play.”
The Trump campaign signed a rental contract Friday. The fee is $30,000, which includes a $10,000 deposit that was supposed to be wired to the arena offices Friday. There may be additional charges for staffing.
Tickets for Tuesday’s rally are free and available through Trump’s campaign website. Doors will open at 4 p.m., according to the website.
Having a ticket does not guarantee you will get in, because the campaign will distribute more tickets than available seats, said state Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, one of the event organizers.
He said he expects people will begin lining up hours before the scheduled start. That’s what happened when Trump held events in Lynden and Spokane on May 7. Ericksen said people showed at 6 a.m. for the 3 p.m. rally in Lynden.
In Everett, the arena can hold 8,000 people. However, that number could shrink depending on where the stage is placed and seating areas established, said Rick Comeau, the arena’s general manager. The campaign is expected to decide on a layout Monday, he said.
As far as the rally itself, campaign officials on Friday provided no details on a possible theme or other speakers.
Trump also plans to attend a fundraiser before the Everett event. Ericksen did not disclose where it will be held. Invitations went out weeks ago saying it would be in Seattle. However, the campaign is reported to have explored locations in Bellevue and the Future of Flight Museum in Snohomish County.
With Trump’s visit, both candidates for president will have come to Everett this year. Clinton held a rally at the Machinists Hall in March.
In past years, trips to Snohomish County by presidents, national political candidates and foreign dignitaries have involved a combination of motorcades and air travel, often with stops at Paine Field.
As of Friday, Trump’s exact travel plans to and from Everett had not been made public.
Sarah Reyes, a spokeswoman for the mayor’s office, said it was too early to talk about logistics.
“However, any plans would likely include intermittent impacts to traffic in and around Xfinity Arena,” she said.
The Washington State Patrol is in touch with the state Department of Transportation and the U.S. Secret Service and expects to communicate information as much as possible, agency spokesman Kyle Moore said Friday.
“When we shut down freeways, people need to know that ahead of time, at least as much lead as we can give so people can make alternate plans,” he said.
He encouraged commuters to talk to their employers in advance about how they might “limit unnecessary trips and to try to telecommute as much as possible and maybe work alternate shifts to try to avoid any traffic to the best of their abilities.”
Snohomish County government on Friday did not have any confirmed information to share on whether Trump will land at Paine Field.
It is common for crowds to gather in public spaces around the airport’s borders for a glimpse of high-profile aircraft. The Trump campaign flies in a Boeing 757, according to The Washington Post.
A spokesman for the Secret Service field office in Seattle referred all questions about the schedule of events to the Trump campaign.
The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office also declined to answer questions, saying only that its motorcycles unit frequently assists with major motorcades, both here and in King County.
Local police departments are expected to become part of the security detail, a practice that typically involves on-duty officers working overtime.
Protesters have been gathering at Trump rallies around the country and Everett is expected to be no different — especially since headquarters for the Snohomish County Democratic Party and the area labor council are located a couple blocks from the arena.
“We’ll have a presence outside the event. I’m going to tell you that it has all of my activists fired-up,” emailed Richard Wright, chairman of the county party. “I mean he can’t appear half a block from our office (and) not expect a counter-presence.”
While Wright questioned the logic of Trump’s visit, he’ll be glad to see Democratic candidates take advantage.
“I hope every GOP candidate in the area gets a nice picture with him on stage at his event, because that photo alone could damage their chances locally in November,” he said.
State Republican Party Chairwoman Susan Hutchison said in May that Trump would return to help energize the party’s base in Snohomish County where the GOP is pinning its hopes for winning statewide races, starting with governor.
Several of the county’s best known Republican office-holders are skipping the event.
State Sen. Kirk Pearson, R-Monroe, has said he will attend. But state Rep. Mark Harmsworth, R-Mill Creek, and Republican Janice Huxford of Lake Stevens, who is battling Democrat John Lovick for a seat in the state House, are not expected to be there.
Neither returned phone calls Friday but Minnick, who manages both of their campaigns, said each will be doorbelling.
“It is much more useful for candidates running for the state Legislature to talk with the people about issues they care about,” he said. “When was the last time a president had a direct impact on your local school or your commute?”
House Minority Leader Dan Kristiansen said he’ll miss the Trump rally because he’ll be in Olympia for long-scheduled staff and caucus meetings. As far as any cost or benefit from Trump’s presence, Kristiansen said the Republican candidates he recruits must be able to “stand on their own two feet.”
“Our people are not running because of who’s running for president,” he said. “If my candidate can’t win without someone’s shirttails or coattails then they shouldn’t be running.”
Sam Low, the Republican challenger to Democratic Snohomish County Councilman Hans Dunshee, said he didn’t think he’d be able to make it due to work. Low, who said he was a delegate for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in the primaries, declined to say if he’s backing Trump now.
“I think it’s great that both (presidential) candidates have come to our county and reached out to voters,” he said.
Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; email@example.com. Twitter: @dospueblos.
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