Uphill battle not a worry for GOP challenger to Rep. Larsen

EVERETT — Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen brings a battle-hardened resume and a wealth of campaign cash as he seeks an eighth term in Congress.

His challenger in Washington’s 2nd District, BJ Guillot, hopes to pull off a long-shot victory on Nov. 4, despite a shortage of experience and money. That leaves the libertarian-minded Republican relying on the appeal of an unconventional candidacy and policy differences with Larsen.

“It’s always an uphill battle when you’re fighting an incumbent,” Guillot said. “I think I do have a chance. I’m a more moderate Republican than what people have seen in recent times.”

Larsen doesn’t take his job for granted, even after winning more than 61 percent of the vote against his Republican opponent two years ago.

“I’m working hard to try to get people back to work,” he said. “The benefits of the recovery haven’t spread to everybody.”

Larsen took 55.6 percent of the Aug. 5 primary vote compared to Guillot’s 32.7 percent. Another 11.7 percent went for Mike Lapointe, an Independent candidate who championed environmental causes and the Occupy movement.

The district covers all of Island and San Juan counties, plus western Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom counties. It includes Everett, Marysville, Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace, Mukilteo, Arlington, Stanwood and Tulalip.

Larsen, 49, grew up in Arlington, one of eight siblings. He and his wife, Tiia, have two sons.

He had been working as a Washington State Dental Association lobbyist in 1997, when he started his political career with a successful run for the Snohomish County Council.

In 2000, he won his first term in Congress. He now serves on the House’s Armed Services and Transportation committees.

The latter assignment, he said, gives him a prominent role drafting legislation to boost the economy through bridge and highway projects. Larsen said he’s trying to overcome partisan bickering by working quietly with Republican colleagues on aerospace and Arctic issues.

To demonstrate his environmental record, Larsen points to money he secured to help restore local estuaries and legislation to protect land in the San Juan Islands.

“No amount of posturing on an issue is going to undermine the strong record on the environment that I have,” he said.

Guillot, 40, moved to Marysville from his home state of Texas in 2011, when his wife, Samantha, took a job with the Boeing Co.

For work, Guillot develops software used by hospitals and ambulance companies.

Technology is more than just a paycheck — it’s a passion. He drives an all-electric Nissan Leaf and installed solar panels on his home. For fun, he studies astronomy and collects vintage computers such as the Texas Instruments 99/4A.

“I love cool technology, I love science fiction. I love all of that,” he said. “I think it’s really cool that you’re able to drive a car without getting gas.”

Guillot serves on the Marysville Library Board, but has no experience in publicly elected office. He lost a race for the Marysville City Council last year.

Stopping the National Security Agency from spying on U.S. citizens is one of Guillot’s top political goals. His support for the Second Amendment, closing the borders to illegal immigrants and reducing federal spending puts him in line with the mainstream GOP.

In other ways, Guillot is politically nonconformist.

He has no qualms with gay marriage or legalizing marijuana for recreational use. While highly uncomfortable with abortion, he supports preserving women’s choice to have one.

“I don’t want to see it, but it is their right,” he said.

He says he’s pro-military, but anti-war.

“We’ve been in a constant state of war since 9/11,” he said. “I don’t think it’s the right thing for us to do, getting involved with ISIS.”

Guillot takes Larsen to task for supporting the Boeing Machinists’ vote on contract concessions. That, he said, has cost the incumbent union support.

“He’s got some issues that make him particularly vulnerable this time around,” Guillot said.

Larsen said Guillot and others have misrepresented his position on the vote, which passed narrowly in January to cut worker benefits in exchange for future jet production in Everett.

“I did advocate that a vote be taken,” he said. “I didn’t advocate that people vote ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ ”

Larsen said he understands that Machinists are angry with him.

“Sometimes, friends disagree, but you just have to work together on the issues that come up,” he said.

The candidates differ on the proposed Gateway Pacific coal-export terminal at Cherry Point in Whatcom County.

Guillot opposes the project for its potential to worsen traffic headaches in Marysville and other communities along the rail line.

Another concern for Guillot is the increasing use of trains to transport crude oil, which he said poses the risk of spills and explosions. It would be better, in his opinion, to build oil pipelines.

Larsen said he supports the Cherry Point Terminal, if it can be held to high standards to mitigate traffic and environmental impacts.

“I looked at the issue in totality and concluded that it was a good issue,” Larsen said. “It would create hundreds of jobs in a county where thousands are out of work.”

As for crude, he’d rather see trains carrying oil to refineries in his district and creating jobs.

“If they’re not refining this crude, we’re going to see more ships, more oil tankers on the Puget Sound,” he said.

Larsen wants to see freight impacts lessened through investments in roadways, more inspections, higher safety standards for tanker cars and additional training for emergency workers who would respond to a derailment.

By mid-October, Larsen’s campaign reported raising more than $774,000, Guillot’s only about $5,500.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; nhaglund@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @NWhaglund.

Meet the candidates

About the job: Representatives are elected to the U.S. House for two-year terms. The job pays $174,000 per year. Washington has 10 congressional districts. The state’s 2nd Congressional District covers all of Island and San Juan counties, plus western Skagit, Whatcom and Snohomish counties, including the cities of Everett, Marysville, Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace, Mukilteo, Arlington, Stanwood, Tulalip and surrounding parts.

Rick Larsen

Residence: Everett

Party: Democratic

Age: 49

Experience: Seven terms as U.S. Representative for the 2nd District; member of the House Transportation &Infrastructure Committee and House Armed Services Committee

Website: ricklarsen.org

B.J. Guillot

Residence: Marysville

Party: Republican

Age: 40

Experience: Product manager for a software company; Marysville Library Board

Website: vote4bj.com

Talk to us

More in Local News

Arlington
Arlington woman dies in crash on Highway 530

The Washington State Patrol says a Stanwood man ran a red light, striking Zoey Ensey as she turned onto the highway.

FILE - This 2003 electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows mature, oval-shaped monkeypox virions, left, and spherical immature virions, right, obtained from a sample of human skin associated with the 2003 prairie dog outbreak. A leading doctor who chairs a World Health Organization expert group described the unprecedented outbreak of the rare disease monkeypox in developed countries as "a random event" that might be explained by risky sexual behavior at two recent mass events in Europe. (Cynthia S. Goldsmith, Russell Regner/CDC via AP, File)
Monkeypox case count rises to 6 in Snohomish County

Meanwhile, cases in the state have roughly doubled every week. Most of those have been in neighboring King County.

Farmer Frog employees sort through a pallet of lettuce at their new location on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022 in Snohomish, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
At Farmer Frog’s new pad, nonprofit helps feed 1.5M Washingtonians

The emergency food distribution network began amid the pandemic. Demand was high — so high, the truck volume led them to move.

Logo for news use featuring Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Snohomish County, cities announce $9.6M for mental health, shelter

Projects span from Edmonds to Sultan. Each city is using American Rescue Plan Act money, with the county contributing, too.

Logo for news use featuring Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Suspect in custody after man’s gunshot death, standoff

Deputies responded to a domestic violence call and found the suspect barricaded on the property near Snohomish.

A view of the proposed alternative station location to Everett Station located east of the current BNSF rail tracks in downtown. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Could light rail station under Pacific Avenue and over railroad work?

A group representing people around Everett Station wants Sound Transit to study the idea.

Jon Elmgren, president of the Everett Rock Club, talks with two club members while out searching for olivine and other minerals on Saturday, July 22, 2022, along the Nooksack River near Deming, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Everett rockhounds dig in for shiny, rare, ‘ugly as sin’ treasure

This club has been around for 83 years. They’ll tell you what rocks their world — and how to identify “leaverite.”

State Representative Robert Sutherland, left, gives a thumbs-up to passing drivers as he and a few volunteers wave flags and campaign signs along the side of State Route 9 on July 22, in Lake Stevens. Sam Low, right, talks with seniors on July 20 in Lake Stevens. (Sutherland photo by Ryan Berry / The Herald, Low photo by Kevin Clark / The Herald)
In GOP battle of Sutherland vs. Low, Democrats may tip the scale

The state lawmaker and Snohomish County council member are vying for a House seat. Democrats make up roughly 40% of the vote.

Two students walk along a path through campus Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022, at Everett Community College in Everett, Washington. The college’s youth-reengagement program has lost its funding, and around 150 students are now without the money they need to attend classes. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Monroe nixes college program, leaving 150-plus students in the lurch

For years, the Monroe School District footed the bill for “U3” students, who have gotten mixed messages about why that’s ending.

Most Read