Sehlin returns to take on Anderson

"Barry Sehlin is back in politics.After pulling out of what promised to be a costly race for Congressman Jack Metcalf's U.S. House seat early this year, former state Rep. Barry Sehlin (R-Oak Harbor) said Wednesday that he'll head back to the campaign trail this summer in a bid for the 10th District state House seat held by Rep. Dave Anderson (D-Clinton).Earlier this week Anderson, a South Whidbey veterinarian who also owns and operates Island Greens Golf Course, announced his plans to run for a third term in the Legislature. He first went to Olympia four years ago when he defeated Oak Harbor incumbent Barney Beeksma. Two years ago, he handily turned back a Republican challenge from South Whidbey developer Gordon Koetje to keep his post.Sehlin could prove to be a tougher opponent, however. Koetje had no previous legislative experience whereas Sehlin, a former base commander at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, served three terms in the Legislature and was the former chairman of the Capital Budget Committee.Anderson said Thursday that Sehlin's candidacy will make for a harder campaign than he would have liked, but he added that Sehlin will have a bigger burden of proof.The conventional wisdom is that the challenger has to find a real reason other than partisan politics to replace an incumbent, said Anderson. This is my seat. I've done a good job.Anderson said the 10th District is considered a swing district by both political parties. For many years, he said, the Republicans dominated local politics but in the past few years Democrats have picked up support.Sehlin said he sees the race as a question of leadership, pitting his years of political clout against Anderson's. It's about the kind of leadership and ability people want to represent them in Olympia, he said.Anderson, on the other hand, says he has a strong record on issues that are important to local citizens, including natural resources, oil spill legislation, health care for seniors and shorelines. He sees the contest on a more emotional level.I don't think he (Sehlin) is as passionate about the quality of life issues of the community we live in, he said.But Sehlin said he is highly motivated to return to politics.I think everyone has a desire to do something positive. I feel I can contribute very positively in the Legislature, he said. In April, Sehlin pulled out of a congressional primary race with Arlington's John Koster after deciding it would take too much money and debt to win the seat. Thursday he said the 10th District race will be considerably less expensive than the $1.25 million he expected it would cost to run for Congress. He said he feels confident that he has strong enough support to raise the needed funds.Anderson said he anticipates having to raise at least $120,000 for the race now that Sehlin is in it.I just bought more signs today, he said.Both candidates say education, transportation, health care and environmental issues will likely be at the heart of the Legislature's agenda in coming years."

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