Bryant believes he is a better fit for governor than Inslee

A week ago we introduced you to Bill Bryant, Republican candidate for governor. He stopped by the office before heading over to friends hosting him for Whaling Days. That introduction was largely biographical. Here we deal with issues.

Bryant, as you might expect, takes issue with current Gov. Jay Inslee, the Bainbridge Island Democrat elected governor in 2012, on a host of issues.

Republican candidate for governor Bill Bryant
Republican candidate for governor Bill Bryant

First off, Bryant says as a Republican representing Seattle as a Port of Seattle commissioner, he has to work across the aisle to get things done. Over the years most of his political contributions have gone to Republicans, but there have been a few to Democrats, including the $500 he gave then Congressman Inslee in 1994. That demonstrates, he said, his willingness to be bipartisan. “You will see it not only in who give money to, but in who gives money to me,” he said.

Bryant said Inslee’s record is less bipartisan, and said a letter sent by 25 House Republicans, including Kitsap Caucus members Jesse Young, Michelle Caldier and Drew MacEwen, made the case that Inslee can’t effectively cross party lines. “There’s a feeling that this governor cannot pull people together and cannot get things done,” Bryant said. “There is a big difference between being a congressman and being a governor.”

This is, of course, contrasted by Inslee’s comments this week in front of the Kitsap Sun editorial board where he praised the Legislature for what it accomplished this session. It shouldn’t have taken so long, he said, but what emerged at the end was significant.

Bryant built a business helping businesses export internationally, said he worked closely with former Gov. Chris Gregoire and has a relationship with ports throughout the state. He said it’s critical to keep the Puget Sound ports attractive. Where ports in California are largely importing products staying in that state, much of what arrives in the Pacific Northwest goes to the Midwest, so it could just easily come in through Vancouver, BC or Oregon.

The port commissioner said he’d try to encourage more tourism among an audience already coming her, cruise customers. He said the average stay from them now is two days, but he’d like to see it double to four.

Where Bryant is likely to see his loudest critics during his run is with those critical of the port for voting to allow Shell’s Arctic drilling fleet to dock in Seattle. He said the votes against the Shell drill from coming her was “symbolism at the expense of the middle class.”

“I will never take a position that does nothing for the environment, but costs middle class jobs,” he said.

The Arctic drilling exploration had already been approved by the Obama administration, he said, and the there was no threat from the rigs that were here. He said his first question in any issue like this would be whether it could damage the Puget Sound. “If there was any chance of an oil spill I would have been out in a kayak.”

Bryant is critical of Inslee’s cap-and-trade proposal, saying it would influence local companies to relocate. That, he said, would mean Washington’s air would be cleaner, but because those companies would be operating in places with more lax standards, the planet would not be cleaner. He favors instead incentives to companies to offer new technology to operate with less pollution. That also means encouraging hydro power.

On education Bryant favors diverting some juniors and seniors out of traditional high school curriculum in favor of training them for jobs that pay well and don’t require traditional college training. He said there are jobs on the Seattle waterfront that meet that standard, offering middle class wages after 18 months of learning on the job. He said owners of some companies are leaving the state in part because of the regulatory environment, but also because there isn’t a readily available workforce.

So far Bryant has raised about $422,000 and spent $73,000, according to Public Disclosure Commission documents. Inslee has raised $1.4 million and spent $1 million. Another Republican candidate, Javier Lopez, has not raised or spent any money.

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