Republican No. 3 to challenge Larsen

By Jim Haley

Herald Writer

The slate of Republicans lining up to snatch away a Democratic congressman’s job is swelling.

State Rep. Kelly Barlean of Langley is the latest to join the parade of GOP candidates seeking to face freshman U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen from Lake Stevens.

In early November, a former aide to former Rep. Jack Metcalf, Norma Smith, announced her candidacy.

And Herbert Meyer, a former aide to President Reagan, jumped into the race last month.

Smith also is a Whidbey Island resident, and Meyer hails from Friday Harbor.

Their target is Larsen, a former Snohomish County Council member who won election to Congress in 1999 after a hard-fought race against GOP standard bearer John Koster. The election is in November, and the number of Republicans running will be pared to just one in the September primary.

Barlean is serving his second term as a representative in the 10th Legislative District, which includes parts of Island, Skagit and Snohomish counties. For months, he has said he was strongly considering a run at Larsen.

Barlean has been a practicing lawyer and was elected twice to the Langley City Council. He attended the U.S. Air Force Academy and served as a lieutenant in the Army with the 101st Airborne Division before injuring his knee.

In a press release announcing his candidacy, Barlean noted that the nation is at war and he wants to take his military background to the nation’s capital to "help formulate sound national defense and security policies to keep our armed forces strong and our borders secure."

He said he was "shocked" to see Larsen vote against a bill granting fast-track trade authority to the president.

"That bill was the most important bill for our district and state he has faced, and Larsen voted wrong," Barlean’s statement said.

Larsen could not be reached for comment.

His press aide, Charla Neuman said, "Congressman Larsen voted against (the bill) because it did not go far enough to protect labor and environmental standards. Congressman Larsen is focusing his efforts on protecting good-paying American jobs."

When he was a freshman state representative, Barlean served on the appropriations and capital budget committees, where he said his experience in municipal budgeting as a city councilman and a small business owner paid off.

He said he had a reputation for working with the other political party. Gov. Gary Locke has signed several of his bills into law, including legislation to protect Smith Prairie on Whidbey Island.

Smith, a Clinton resident, served six years with Metcalf, a Republican who is also from Whidbey Island. She worked on veterans, military and local government issues for Metcalf.

Metcalf’s support, she said, played a major role in her decision to run for the post.

Meyer has written for The Wall Street Journal and served as an editor for Fortune magazine. During the Reagan administration, Meyer served as special assistant to the CIA director and that agency’s National Intelligence Council.

You can call Herald Writer Jim Haley at 425-339-3447

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