Up to this point Washington Republican Representative Doc Hastings, who has chaired the largely inert House ethics committee, has fielded attacks basically from Democrats, which he can toss off as partisan.
Harder to do now, with entry into his contest this year of Benton County Commissioner Claude Oliver, who will take him on in the Republican primary.
This is highly intriguing, because Oliver has given evidence before of being not a maverick but a party loyalist. Last month, the Benton Commission had to appoint a new county clerk. Two of the three commissioners chose to reject the recommendation of the county Republican central committee in making their choice; the holdout for the party point of view was Oliver. Should be noted that he apparently has had periodic conflicts with the other commissioners on other matters as well, and both of those commissioners have signed on in support of Hastings.
Certainly he's no outsider to area politics, though. The Tri-City Herald describes his background this way: "The 58-year-old Republican has spent nine years as a county commissioner and was the county treasurer for 15 years before that. He also served a four-year stint in the state House of Representatives from 1977-81 and ran unsuccessfully for state treasurer in 1988 and 1992."
We'll hold off for a time to see how this develops. But this primary contest could be of substantial interest.