The battle within local Democratic and Republican races

An alert party operative who shall remain nameless told me recently, “The fights between parties are nothing compared to the fights within them.” Here we give you two examples, one from each party.

The first fight is one those in Kitsap are more likely to know about, the one between supporters of Russ Hauge and those of Bob Scales. Hauge is the incumbent Kitsap County prosecutor and is a Democrat. Scales served two terms as a Bainbridge Island city councilman and works as an attorney for the City of Seattle.

Tim Sheldon, whose name comes up later, doesn’t like it when Democrats say he isn’t one of them. There is no party registration in Washington, he’ll tell you. Even if there were, it isn’t like there is a test you have to pass for either party. But Democrats do have at least a little bit of justification for saying that about Sheldon, especially now that he caucuses with Republicans. “They caucus with me,” he responds. Fine. Same difference. On issues that divide Democrats and Republicans in the state Senate, Sheldon sides more with Republicans than he does with Democrats. It doesn’t make him a Republican, but give the Democrats credit here for arguing with some evidence.

I’m not sure where they’re getting their evidence when it comes to Bob Scales. Debbi Lester says Scales is combative, short-sighted and mean-spirited, based on her experience as fellow member of the Bainbridge Island City Council. That might all be true, but neither party is immune from that kind of behavior. I covered the council for a year or so while Scales was on it his first time and couldn’t tell you based on that where his politics are. There is the bigger question of where that even matters when it comes to serving as prosecutor, but where Lester and others cast doubt on Scales’ cred as a Democrat come from the fact that the Kitsap Patriots Tea Party gave Scales a high ranking as a candidate.

Quick, what does the Kitsap Patriots Tea Party stand for in a prosecutor? Yeah, I don’t know either. Still, I found it curious, so I contacted the organization to see if I could get a copy of the questions they asked and Scales’ answers. I got no reply. So we asked Scales if he would provide them. He did. I’ll post those below, after the other bit about in-party fighting.

That comes from the race Sheldon is in. Sheldon received a $13,800 in-kind contribution for some polling from the Senate Republican Campaign Committee. (On Monday night I learned there was a last-minute contribution made to Sheldon by the same group. It’s for $5,126.59 and was given on Thursday.) Remember, he’s a Democrat. There is another Democrat in the race, Irene Bowling, who is not shy about questioning his Dem cred. He has received no other official Republican Party money.

Travis Couture, the Republican in the race, received $2,000 from the Mason County Republican Central Committee, but that’s about it from official sources. Official communications from the state have gone out within the district from the state party backing other 35th District Republicans, but not Couture.

Eventually, apparently that was July 31, Couture had had enough. So he sent a letter to Washington State Republican Party Chairwoman Susan Hutchison complaining. The text of that letter follows. After that is the response from the state party and then the one from Kitsap County Republican Party Chairman Chris Tibbs. After that you can we go back to the Democrats, with Bob Scales taking on the “Tea Party” issue.

From: Travis Couture
Sent: Thursday, July 31, 2014 5:35 PM
To: Susan Hutchison, WSRP Chairman
Subject: 35th District Senate Race


I am disgusted at the recent antics by you and the WSRP.

In a recent robo-call with your voice you asked voters to vote for their Republican Candidates which included: MacEwen, Griffey, and Rowell for State House positions but omitted the ONLY Republican candidate in the Senate race in the 35th (myself) so that you could attempt to help a Democrat Tim Sheldon past the finish line.

Just today, you sent out a an email, with your signature, asking Republicans to fill out their ballot for WSRP candidates, excluded from the list was the 35th senate race, where only one Republican exists (myself)… again so you could help a DEMOCRAT Tim Sheldon across the finish line.

In the past year, you have ignored Mason County, and actually you have still to visit it. Ignored my campaign to the best of your ability, violated WSRP bylaws which states YOU MUST support the only Republican in a contested race. You have frozen me out of any hope of financial support and fundraising, you have generally denied my existence while promoting a Democrat led “coalition caucus” instead of a full time Republican Majority (which is the whole ENTIRE PURPOSE OF THE WSRP!!!!)

You and Caleb Heimlich have been promoting Tim Sheldon in private circles (you don’t think I hear about these things?) You have ignored all of my phone calls and emails, you have cleverly attempted fundraising for my Democrat opponent and you have abandoned the platform and almost every principle of conservatism.

You Susan, are the biggest disgrace to this party that I have seen in a while. Its because of people like you we lose elections, its because of people like you is the reason our party is on life support, and you have done nothing you have promised, you are extremely overpaid for what you provide for this party which is absolutely nothing but division and the utter destruction of anything wholesome.

You are a complete and utter failure in every imaginable way. Win, draw, or lose, I hold you personally accountable for everything that has happened as a negative for my campaign, and I promise to you that if I lose, it will be YOUR fault, and I WILL make you regret it.

You better hope and pray to GOD that Tim Sheldon wins in a landslide, but I’m sure you already are.

– Travis Couture, the only Republican running for State Senate in the
35th District.


Subject: FW: 35th District Senate Race
From: Caleb Heimlich
Date: Fri, August 01, 2014 1:32 pm
To: (county party chairs)

Travis Couture, candidate for 35th LD Senate, sent the WSRP Chairman the email below. Because we believe he bcc’d a number of people, we encourage you to distribute this response from the WSRP.

1. The WSRP is and has been neutral in the 35th District.

While we featured retiring Senator Rodney Tom at our recent WSRP auction in Pierce County, we did not showcase Tim Sheldon in any way. Travis Couture did not attend the auction where the WSRP invited all GOP candidates to the stage to individually introduce themselves.

None of the Senate Republican Caucus mailings supporting Tim Sheldon were sent by this office using our cheaper postage rate.

2. Couture’s allegations about the by-laws are false.

The WSRP By-laws and policy statements do not compel the WSRP to support any and all Republicans who file for office.

This year we are focusing our strategic efforts on 6 Senate campaigns in highly targeted districts. In doing so, we are making the best investment we can in order to ensure a Senate Republican Majority.

3. The WSRP has never fundraised or attempted to fundraise for Tim Sheldon.

Neither the Executive Director nor the Chairman have promoted him in private meetings.

The WSRP does not have the power to freeze fundraising for Couture or any candidate. Candidates are responsible for building the relationships with funders who choose whom to support with their limited resources.

4. The candidates page on our website displays the page provided by the Senate Caucus.

24 Republican State Senators endorsed Tim Sheldon without consulting with the WSRP.

5. Neither Caleb, nor Susan have ignored Travis’ phone calls, texts or e-mails.

The Chairman has not ignored Mason County, regretting she was unable to attend the Reagan dinner because of a prior obligation in Snohomish County.

Mr. Couture chose not to meet with the State Party before deciding to run for this office. He had to know that running against a member of the Majority Coalition Caucus would set up for an awkward campaign. He made the decision to pursue this office anyway.

This Chairman and the entire WSRP team are working tirelessly to win elections across the State of Washington.

Caleb Heimlich

Executive Director
Washington State Republican Party


From: Chris Tibbs – KCRP Chairman <>
Date: Fri, 1 Aug 2014 16:22:18 -0700
To: Travis Couture
Cc: (several people)
Subject: RE: FW: 35th District Senate Race

Mr. Couture,

I was exceptionally disappointed to read an email from our State Party today clarifying a previous email you had sent to our State Chair Susan Hutchison last night, and the distortion of the facts which may result in the disparagement and ridicule of the Washington State Republican Party,along with loyal Republicans across the state of Washington.

Your statements and actions have created an unacceptable distraction and embarrassment to the objectives of our party and its members. At a moment when we should be organizing and working to elect and support candidates for the crucial 2014 elections, we are now faced with potentially managing your destructive messaging.

Your actions will only resurrect the “we told you so” comments from those who are bent on the marginalization of the Republican party, which will now be gleefully resurrected during this critical primary campaign cycle. The cost to the party and its candidates, in political and financial terms as we must now add to our burden the need to potentially respond to the potential negative messaging targeted at independent women voters by our adversaries, is immeasurable.

I would strongly request that you engage immediately in working to resolve this crisis of your creation.

First, I would expect you to issue a full apology to our State Chair Susan Hutchison, WSRP Executive Director Caleb Heimlich, to elected Republicans and candidates currently engaged in this upcoming primary election, and to Republican PCO’s, contributors and voters within the 35th District.

I would also expect you to create a strategy and plan to begin the challenging work of undoing as much of the damage resulting from your actions as is possible.


Chris Tibbs
Chairman, Kitsap County Republican Party
Executive Board Member – Washington State Republican Party



From: “Bob Scales”
Subject: Answering Questions About My Party Affiliation
Date: July 29, 2014 at 3:43:43 PM PDT

Hello Everyone,

In the last few weeks some members of the 23rd Legislative District Democrats have been publicly suggesting that I may not be a real Democrat. Today members of the 23rd are forwarding emails from the Kitsap Tea Party suggesting that I may be endorsed by the Tea Party. Both of these accusations are false. I am a Democrat. I have not sought and I have not received the endorsement of the Tea Party.

I have sought the endorsement of the Democratic Party because I am a Democrat. This is a partisan race and I would like to have the support of my Party.

On July 12th I received an email from Ben Kuhner from the Kitsap Tea Party. The email was sent to all four candidates for Kitsap County Prosecutor. Mr. Kuhner asked the candidates 5 questions that were specific to the prosecutor’s race. I answered the 5 questions and sent my responses to Mr. Kuhner. (See the email string below with my answers). My answers to the questions are nothing new. I have said the same things in forums, in my literature and when I go doorbelling.

During my campaign I have received many questions by email, through my website and Facebook, by phone, at forums and when I go doorbelling. I have never refused to answer any question. I will respond to any relevant question about the prosecutor’s race regardless of who is asking the question. I am more than willing to share any of my answers to these questions publicly.

Public Service Not Politics is not just a campaign slogan for me. It is who I am. It may not have been a good political decision for me to answer questions from the Tea Party. However, I am a candidate for public office and if I get elected, all the members of the Kitsap Tea Party will be my constituents just like all the other residents of the County no matter their party affiliation. I believe that I have an obligation to answer the Tea Party’s questions about my candidacy just as I would answer questions that were posed by any other voter in this County.

I believe that what is important is the content of my answers and not the reaction of the Tea Party to my responses.

I am happy to answer any questions that anyone may have about this situation. Please feel free to forward this email and my answers to anyone you think may be interested.


Bob Scales (D)

From: Bob Scales
Sent: Thursday, July 17, 2014 3:16 AM
To: Kitsap Tea Party address
Subject: RE: Candidate Questions

Dear Mr. Kuhner,

Here are my answers to the questions you posed. I am happy to have a discussion by phone or email if you have any further questions or need additional information.

Bob Scales

Should a prosecutor actually talk to a defendant to hear the defendant’s side of the story?
A prosecutor cannot speak directly to a defendant without the consent and/or presence of defense counsel. Generally a defense attorney will not want his or her client to speak directly to the prosecutor since the client may provide incriminating statements. If the defendant is pro se, the prosecutor may speak directly to the defendant only after a judge has advised the defendant of his right to counsel and the defendant has waived that right. As a prosecutor, I am always willing to listen to the defendant’s side of the story. If the defendant offers credible exculpatory evidence or additional witnesses, I would follow-up on that information before making any decision. If the defendant provides evidence that leads me to believe that I could not prove the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, then I would dismiss the charge. The last thing I want to do as a prosecutor is convict someone of a crime that they did not commit. Therefore, before I go to trial, I will make sure I have all the relevant evidence available including any statements offered by the defendant.

Do you belong to any organizations which seek increased prosecutions for offences which that organization focuses on (Domestic violence, Drunk driving, etc.)?

Have you ever sought the prosecution of a law enforcement officer for acts on the job?
I have not personally been involved in any cases where an officer has been charged with a crime. However, I have worked for offices (Seattle City Attorney’s Office and King County Prosecutor’s Office) that have brought charges against law enforcement officers for criminal conduct.

What is your opinion about the 15 year prosecution and code violation citings against the Kitsap Rifle and Revolver Club?
Since I am not personally involved in either the criminal or civil matters I do not have the full facts of these cases. However, I have read most of the information that is publicly available. On the criminal case, if there was sufficient evidence that Mr. Carter unlawfully possessed a machine gun then I would have charged him with that crime. However, it does not appear as if there was any evidence that Mr. Carter’s firearm was fully-automatic. Therefore, it appears as if the 15 year case against Mr. Carter may be a malicious prosecution. I would never charge a criminal case that I could not prove much less pursue that case for 15 years. On the civil matter, if the Kitsap Rifle and Revolver Club is being treated differently than other property owners, then the County and the Prosecutor would be engaged in selective enforcement which I would never do as the Prosecutor. For example, if the land use code requires a permit for re-gravelling, the County can only require the Club to get a permit to re-gravel their driveway if the County also requires all other property owners to get a permit when they re-gravel their driveways. This does not appear to be the case so this may be an unlawful selective enforcement action. I am not that familiar with the other land use code violations being brought against the Club.

What should happen to deputy prosecutor who behaves with Prosecutorial Misconduct or who places perjurers on the stand in criminal cases?
If any Deputy Prosecutor that worked for me engaged in any criminal conduct (including DUI) I would dismiss them immediately and refer the case to another jurisdiction for consideration of criminal charges. No exceptions. If a Deputy Prosecutor working for me violated the Rules of Professional Conduct such as admitting testimony or evidence that he or she knew to be false, that deputy would be disciplined with sanctions up to and including dismissal. I will have a zero tolerance policy for any misconduct by my deputies.

13 thoughts on “The battle within local Democratic and Republican races

  1. Thank you Travis Couture.

    Well, well, well. Not surprising that the response from the local Republican party is all about mitigating the potential public embarrassment that the direct calling out of their behavior would bring. It happens this way all the time.
    What they don’t seem to realize, is that they themselves have worsened that embarrassment by denying it and then attacking the messenger.

    The single biggest crime that a Kitsap/Mason conservative can do, in their eyes, is to publically confront the local Republican party and candidates on their shortcomings in a wide open forum.

    I am sure the multiple private Yahoo groups of local republicans are roaring behind the scenes today. No guts to confront party problems directly, instead the behind the scenes undermining, backstabbing and political extortion on those who don’t comply rages on and continues to damage the party in ways that public complaining ever would.

  2. Whoa , sparks a flying . No comments from the Dems Steve ? But they know better , I assume Travis will be an independent after releasing this one . But can understand , Mr Smith Goes to Washington is a story that is just as relevant today . The agendas of party, local , and individual often can off track . Today we need leaders, and I do not see many from either party . We need some for sure .

    Have heard the State GOP is quite the good old boys network . The local dems I did not realize were as abundantly frowned upon by the local democrats also . Never hear that coming out , of course many of their elections are sure things and friction like this comes out in closely contested ones .
    I can see Travis getting ticked , a libertarian at heart . The big bi partisan coalition formed in the state did not have local elections in mind . So the state supporting Travis is going against that coalition , the state GOP not supporting Travis is going against party structure and platform .

    But I know a few reps who are independent of either party I would and have supported also . I am assuming Travis will be independent from here in .

    The liberal left have bought in the Tea party are racists and worse . the fact is they support efficient government , smaller government , and obeying the Constitution . Some of the kindest down to earth folks you will meet . The way they have been portrayed is a story that is prudent here, because they like a democrat the democrats assume the guy is pathetic . The communists like democrats and have supported the President , have seen that used against the president also . Its baloney .

    Who would not want a prosecutor who did not want to obey the laws of the land ? Or choose to only honor some of the laws as we have now on the Federal level . If Danielson an independent looses the race, I was considering Scales in the main election . Seems qualified , he may not be a hard lefty , but he is no militia armed extremist .

  3. I noted this nonsense as well. That there is some influence investment that has nothing to do with political party but everything to do with power. Those candidates that associate themselves with a strong political allegiance for the resources and not the actual values that are held by that party. Democans or Replicrats….you can call them out by their vote.

  4. Regarding the Couture/WSRP/Tibbs matter… it saddens me to see this type of behavior from those in my party. This is why we struggle locally to gain ground on moving the most important platform issues we share forward.

    It is completely inappropriate and alarming to see a candidate lose his temper in the face of adversity. That speaks poorly of Mr. Couture. I expected better. I had hoped for better. I’m extremely disappointed.

    It also seems completely inappropriate and alarming to see the WSRP and Chris Tibbs appear to make a public spectacle out of the matter. I expect leadership in the party to set a better tone and exercise better savvy than issuing a near-public spanking to a candidate that they should be mentoring instead of effectively self-leaking what should have been a severe reprimand to a candidate that was about as far out of line as he could go without throwing a physical blow.

    I’d be curious to know how the Kitsap Sun came to acquire these letters. Were they forwarded from self-serving individuals or released by Mr. Couture/WSRP/Mr. Tibbs? Why does it matter? I expect discretion from candidates and leadership. This is the sort of thing that should be worked out in person and outside of the public venue. While I effectively agree with Chris Tibb’s letter to Mr. Couture, I vehemently disagree with it being put out in such a way that it was sure to get to the press. That appears self-serving and I am bothered by that.

    As Republicans, we should debate the issues facing our party and our nation in very public ways. We should also set the example for mutual respect and self-discipline. It should be ok to disagree on issues and work towards consensus. Robust and honest discussion of the issues is vital to moving the best ideas and common ground forward.

    But for “leaders” in our own party to publicly brow beat and spit at each other in such a public way, as we are trying to move legitimate issues and candidates forward, serves no constructive purpose.

  5. Kitsap County Republican Party rebuffed a motion to take an up/down vote on endorsement of Mr. Travis Couture, Republican candidate in the race. The KCRP Executive Board took the totally morally unhclear position on voting on endorsing a Republican candidate by tabling the motion until the September meeting. Talk about moral unclarity — wow !@!

  6. “As Republicans, we should debate the issues facing our party and our nation in very public ways. We should also set the example for mutual respect and self-discipline. It should be ok to disagree on issues and work towards consensus. Robust and honest discussion of the issues is vital to moving the best ideas and common ground forward. ”

    Right on Kathryn , as Americans we should start speaking up to this also . Both parties should. Not sure why anyone would thank a young politician for making a threat , but I guess some believe to counter wrong you have to know how to out wrong them . Which is how we got into this state of affairs .

  7. Yes. Must keep those backroom conversations and inner party pressure and/or deal making locked down behind closed doors at all costs. Perfect proof, right here, of that exact point.

  8. Colleen,

    Praise in individuals public and correct them in private is a premise that many use for civility.

    I was very clear and have made my feelings very public that public policy debates should be public and civil.

    This Couture/WSRP/Tibbs matter was not a debate on public policy. It was about manners and civility (or lack thereof) by ‘leaders’. It was about correcting irresponsible personal behavior and temper tantrums so that the personal behavior doesn’t give a negative impression of the entire family. That should have been done privately or handled with much better discretion than it was.

    Yes, there are things that parties should do behind closed doors. Just like there are things that families should keep off of facebook.

  9. Sorry, correcting that first sentence…

    Praise an individual in public and correct them in private is a premise that many use for civility.

  10. There is something to be said for civility and ways to address perceived grievances. This is not necessarily to hide criminal activity or other matters the public should know, but to rise above public lynchings and projected agendas which might cloud legitimate issues or progress.

    There is also a valid argument for allowing free and open expression and resolution, even if it is embarrassing or potentially damaging to oneself, one’s candidate, one’s party, or one’s friend. Since denial, smear campaigns, and stonewalling are commonly used to deflect, some might be feel ‘light of day’ airing’ is their only recourse towards righting (no pun intended) a ship.

    Coutoure’s decision to fire off an emotionally charge missive will no doubt be vigourously debated along with the WSRP/Tibbs public response; so be it. But every one in this thread is guilty of going after someone publicly or falling conveniently silent when it suits their purpose. It’s human nature, as is party in-fighting.

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