Once a financial contributor, now an opponent

Bill Bryant, Republican candidate for Washington governor
Bill Bryant, Republican candidate for Washington governor

If you have been paying attention at all to politics lately it has either been for the primary we have going on right now or for the presidential election next year. We do have candidates running for governor in 2016, however, and two of them have a connection that at least one of them didn’t know about.

Bill Bryant, the first person to officially throw his name in the ring running for Washington governor in 2016, is in town for Whaling Days this weekend, invited by friends here. He stopped by the office to meet us and to talk about his thoughts on what a governor should do. We’re assuming incumbent Gov. Jay Inslee, a Bainbridge Island Democrat, is running, too, unless he has other plans. We asked once, but he didn’t confirm or deny.

Bryant grew up in Hoodsport, then Olympia, went to college at Georgetown and returned to Washington, where he runs an international trade company in Seattle . He is also a commissioner for the Port of Seattle.

Republicans haven’t had one of their own in the governor’s office since John Spellman left the office in 1985. Bryant believes he can win because he will do better than other Republicans have in Seattle, having represented the city for the port. We’ll get to the issues later next week.

Make no mistake, Bryant cites big differences between himself and the governor. But in 1994, when Inslee was running for a second term in Congress from Yakima, Bryant was one of his contributors. According to the campaign finance tracking site OpenSecrets.org, Bryant gave Inslee $500. Inslee lost that campaign as part of the Republican Party’s “Contract with America,” then moved to Bainbridge Island, and a few years later began a new Congressional career.

Bryant didn’t remember contributing to the campaign, but said that in his business he was working with international governments, the Washington apple industry and government officials, including Inslee, to open up foreign markets for the state’s signature crop. He said he probably had a friend who invited him to a fundraiser and that he likely made a contribution.

From OpenSecrets.org
From OpenSecrets.org

In 2009 he gave another $500 to Democrat Patty Murray for her U.S. Senate re-election bid against Republican Dino Rossi, though he voted for Rossi, he said. Bryant has contributed often to political campaigns, most often, but not always, to Republican candidates. He financially supported Rossi’s runs for governor, John McCain’s 2008 presidential run and George W. Bush during both of his campaigns.

Next week I’ll write more about the visit and will discuss the encouragement to run he received from 25 House Republicans, including three from the Kitsap Caucus.

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