Harman announces run for lieutenant governor

An Oak Harbor man is seeking one of the top positions in state government.

An Oak Harbor man who describes himself as a “liberal Republican” is seeking one of the top positions in state government.

Patrick Harman said he plans to file to run for lieutenant governor, a job he sees as both administrative and low-profile.

“It seems like a job I can handle,” he said, adding that he is looking for something to do in his retirement. But mostly, he said, he believes in democracy.

Harman, who is 80 years old, worked as a legislative aide in Alaska after retiring from a 20-year career in an executive position at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Officer Corps. The Navy veteran ran for Oak Harbor mayor in 2019 but lost.

Harman said he hopes his decision to call himself a “liberal” member of the GOP will garner some statewide press. While he is conservative when it comes to budgets and public spending, he is more progressive on social issues. He said, for example, that abortion is an issue that women should decide for themselves and that the NRA is to blame for making sensible gun control impossible.

Yet he concedes that the lieutenant governor has no authority over such issues.

The position of lieutenant governor is akin to the vice president, but on a state level. The lieutenant governor’s three main statutory duties are serving as the state senate president, acting as governor when the governor is out of state and chairing the economic development and international relations committee. The lieutenant also serves on 10 other committees and boards and makes appointments to 41 others, according to the National Lieutenant Governors Association.

“The lieutenant governor doesn’t get a lot of publicity and most people aren’t even aware of what the position is,” Harman said. “He doesn’t even have a vote in the senate. It’s really just about following the direction of the governor.”

Harman said he knows that it will be a tough race to win.

“There will probably be 20 other candidates in the primary,” he said.

The current lieutenant governor, Denny Heck, is expected to run again and has already raised $185,000, according to the Public Disclosure Commission. Four other candidates have filed with the PDC.

Harman said it won’t make sense to go door knocking, as he did in the mayor’s race, but that he hopes to speak at different forums.

“I’m not going to overburden everyone with my yard signs,” he joked.

The candidate filing week is May 6-10. The filing fee is 1% of the annual salary, which is currently $117,000 for lieutenant governor.

Harman ran for Oak Harbor mayor against Bob Severns in 2019. He jumped into politics because he was concerned about what he saw as city leaders making financial mistakes, especially in relation to the sewage treatment plant.

While his interest in financial matters persists, he said that the lieutenant governor isn’t involved in deciding the state budget “or much of anything else.”