The wife of gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna applauded local Republicans for taking lemons and making lemonade after someone spray painted graffiti smiley faces on virtually all of her husband’s campaign signs in Grays Harbor County. The local party wasn’t pleased, but shrugged it off and incorporated the smiley face on T-shirts to generate funds for their local candidates.
“I’m proud of the way they’ve handled themselves,” said Marilyn McKenna, after she attended a Republican picnic in Hoquiam following Loggers Playday.
Back in July, just days after volunteers put up scads of Rob McKenna for governor campaign signs all over the Harbor, vandals tagged them with bright yellow smiley faces. The vandalism appeared to happen all at once in all parts of the county — from Ocean Shores to Elma. Initially, the vandalism left the local Republicans grumbling and they didn’t have the funds to replace them.
“We’re only allowed so many campaign signs for the county and right after they go up, we have to deal with the vandalism,” said Cathy Colley, who co-chairs McKenna’s campain on the Harbor.
Kristine Lowder, the chairwoman of the Grays Harbor Republican Party, filed police reports with the Aberdeen and Hoquiam police departments and the Grays Harbor Sheriff’s Office. Lowder said there haven’t been any leads.
Then, a few weeks ago, Lowder and her supporters decided to put the signs on T-shirts and seek donations to raise funds to support local candidates.
“I’m proud of the shirt,” said Ken Treat, wearing one as he served up hot dogs at the Republican picnic. “I’m really not sure who did this, I know this is quite a Democratic county. But I like the way we’re handling it.”
The T-shirts have generated attention on local radio programs, as well as on KOMO TV. All of the attention convinced local Republicans to leave them up.
Nobody is too sure what the smiley face is supposed to mean. “I can think of a whole lot worse things to be sprayed on one of my signs,” she said. “Happy faces and hearts are a good thing. Spread the love. Whether it’s graffiti or in support, it’s happiness and love and how can that be a bad thing, right? These guys took a bad thing and made it better.”
McKenna is challenging Democrat Jay Inslee for the governor’s mansion.
Lowder said that the Republicans are seeking a $15 donation for one of the McKenna Smiley Face T-shirts. They’re available online at http://www.ghgop.org.