This year, Reps. Vincent Buys and Jason Overstreet could be fending off challenges from Libertarians as well as traditional Democratic opponents. With the conservative leanings of the 42nd legislative district, the entrance of these young libertarian candidates could lead to a very interesting race.
Nicholas Kunkel, a fisheries biologist for the Lummi Nation, is considering a run against Rep. Jason Overstreet. I was first alerted to his run when he placed a Craigslist ad looking for volunteers and interns. Kunkel lives in north Bellingham and is a member of the Lake Whatcom Watershed Advisory Board and the Noxious Weed Control Board.
He might have a difficult path, considering Overstreet’s close relationship with the libertarian movement. Last year, the Libertarians endorsed Republican incumbent Jason Overstreet and Democratic candidate Matt Krogh for the 42nd.
Allen Springstead, Bellingham resident and Nooksack Masonic Lodge member, is running against Buys. He has already declared, filed with the PDC and is speaking at the Cascade Liberty Summit in May as a candidate against Buys. In 2012, he wrote a letter supporting the Gateway Pacific Terminal project to the Northern Light.
The question is, will they be competitive? In the past four years, a number of hard right candidates have picked up significant support from Whatcom County. In 2012, the county Republicans sent several Santorum delegates to the state level, and Rob McKenna’s opponent on the right, Shahram Hadian, received a warm welcome when he visited our corner of the state.
To get some perspective, I spoke to Michael Pickens, executive director for the Libertarian Party of Washington State. He believes both Buys and Overstreet could be in trouble. “Both Overstreet and Buys are definitely vulnerable to a Libertarian challenger. With both of them receiving the majority of campaign contributions from special interests, we need Representatives who represent the people, not corporate and special interests.”
Pickens also addressed the conservative credentials of the incumbents. “Overstreet and Buys may be libertarian leaning but they are not Libertarians. Overstreet is a social conservative and Buys is an establishment Republican.” Click on their names to see my overview of the bills sponsored by Jason Overstreet and Vincent Buys in 2014.
Currently, Buys has raised $13,291 for his reelection effort, $11,350 of that from corporate political action committees, including $500 each from Pacific International Terminals, Walmart and Johnson & Johnson. Overstreet has raised $6,150, the entire amount from corporate political action committees, including $500 donations from Walmart and Pacific International Terminals.
As with many libertarian crusaders, both Springstead and Kunkel are under 30. As a movement, young conservatives almost universally trend libertarian adding a generational dimension to the struggles between libertarians and establishment Republicans. Pickens remains undeterred, “As an organization, the Libertarian Party of Washington is poised to put up serious challenges to both Republicans and Democrats all across the state!”
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