Sehlin is out of congressional race

Oak Harbor Republican was only Whidbey candidate for Second District seat - says money is forcing him out

  • Friday, April 21, 2000 7:00pm
  • News

“Barry Sehlin, the only Whidbey Island candidate for U.S. Rep. Jack Metcalf’s congressional seat, has bowed out of the race.Sehlin’s announcement, made at the South Whidbey Republican Women’s Club in Langley Tuesday, leaves Rep. John Koster, R-Arlington, as the lone GOP challenger for Metcalf’s seat. Metcalf, a Langley Republican, is retiring at the end of this term and state Democrats have mounted a strong push to claim his seat. Sehlin cited a lack of money as the key reason for his withdrawal. He said he and his wife made the decision last weekend after seeing several months of dwindling campaign funds.We had to recognize that … the checkbook was empty, he said Wednesday. That made the decision for us. Sehlin said fundraising has been difficult lately because big contributors are reluctant to give to candidates in a contested primary. He said he couldn’t see raising the $1.25 million he expected it will cost to run both the Republican primary and the final contest with Democrat Rick Larsen, a Snohomish County Councilman.His statement came as a shock to many local supporters, said Island County Republican Party Chairwoman Sheilah Crider. Crider said Sehlin’s campaign got off to a great start after he first announced his candidacy more than a year ago.It’s hard for us because we’ve known him for so long, she said.Sehlin served in the state Legislature for six years prior to stepping down at the end of 1998. He is also well known as a former commander of the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station.But Koster has shown strong support on the mainland, pulling in more money than Sehlin and convincingly winning a Whatcom County straw poll vote in March. Koster, an Arlington dairy farmer, also got an early endorsement from Metcalf, who threw his support to the candidate last month. Sehlin said Metcalf’s pre-primary endorsement of Koster came as a surprise, but did not influence his recent decision to back out. Crider said the national Republican Party may have put some pressure on Metcalf to take an early position to help narrow the field for what they know will be a tough and expensive race against Larsen.Sehlin was known as a moderate Republican during his days in the state Legislature. Koster is recognized as more conservative. But Sehlin said that although he and Koster have disagreed at times, he will support him in the upcoming election. He said his withdrawal from the race should not be seen as a move toward a more conservative position for the Republican Party overall.The situation doesn’t have to do with ideology or issues, Sehlin said. It’s strictly financial.”

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