Toss this one near the top of the list of most contentious Washington state House seats this cycle: District 17, the seat now held by Republican Jim Dunn, R-Battle Ground.
There was some talk that Dunn might not run again, which might have changed the character of the contest this year. But word now is that he is running, so things are getting interesting.
Dunn isn't a newcomer; he's been a state rep from the rural Clark County area (including some of the Vancouver area) since 1996, apart from a term out in 2002-03. He lost in 2002, and his margins have been less than impressive overall; his races have been much more competitive than those of the typical incumbent. And that was before late last year. The Washington House Republican caucus had just been reeling over difficulties including a resignation and preceding scandal, at which point Dunn made remarks to a female Republican staffer considered so inappropriate that his fellow Republicans took away his committee assignments and cut his expenses. Those remarks were, apparently, not considered entirely unusual, either; presumably, most of the Republican caucus would rather see another Republican replace him.
And that might happen, but there are questions and issues.
Another Republican, Joseph James, has entered the race (possibly hoping that Dunn would opt out), and has been at work: Among other things, reporting campaign fundraising of $74,000, considerably more than either Dunn or the Democrat in the race, Tim Propst. However, Chris Mulick at the Tri-City Herald reports some unusual aspects to that large number: "Since January he's counted about $3,000 a month as an in-kind donation from himself for use of personal space for a campaign office and another $700 a month for use of a personal vehicle. He's also listed lots of other in-kind contributions from himself for things such as gas and meals. The Public Disclosure Commission database doesn't appear to be quite caught up with incoming reports yet but it appears only a bit more than half of James' total contributions have been cash donations. James has filed two summary reports recently and I can't tell which one is current. But either way it appears he has less than $10,000 on hand."
So how does he fare against a well-known Dunn in the primary? Or against Probst (we've met him, and he appears to be an energetic and presentable candidate) in the fall? This race is very much up in the air.
SEE ALSO an additional review of James' background at this Clark County political site.