Longview business owner Tim Sutinen needs to find a few hundred people to write his name on the ballot so he can officially challenge state Rep. Brian Blake, D-Aberdeen, in the General Election.
Blake had been running unopposed for the position.
Sutinen launched his write-in campaign a few days ago, running as an Independent, officially paying a filing fee and registering as a write-in candidate with the Secretary of State’s Office. State law allows Sutinen’s name to appear on the General Election ballot so long as he secures 1 percent of the total results from the primary.
In 2010, there were 27,977 total votes in the 19th Legislative District. If the primary turnout mirrors this year’s election, he would need at least 280 people to write his name in. Because he registered, the names all don’t have to be exact, meaning Timothy Sutinen or a slight mispelling of his last name will all count, so long as the voter’s intent is clear, Grays Harbor Auditor Vern Spatz said.
This marks Sutinen’s third try to take on an incumbent legislator in the 19th Legislative District. In 2006, he challenged state Rep. Dean Takko, D-Longview, as a Republican and garnered nearly 36 percent of the vote. In 2010, he ran against Blake and garnered nearly 47.6 percent, then running as a member of the “Lower Taxes Party.”
Sutinen decided this time to just declare himself an “Independent.”
Asked why he didn’t just file as a regular candidate back in May, Sutinen said he had personal circumstances that didn’t allow him to do so.
“But since nobody filed, I’ve had many people tell me they’d support me if I was on the ballot,” he said. “They finally, finally were able to convince me last week to do it. I’m in it and I’m putting my everything into it and putting my life on hold. …
“We need to get people working again so businesses of all sizes have a level playing field and, right now, the playing field is tilted in favor of those who are well-connected.”
Sutinen says he has a small technology consultant business in Longview with a dozen employees. Last year, he and his son successfully completed a petition campaign to the Longview City Council calling for the removal of red light cameras. Sutinen said the cameras were removed in February.
Blake says he’s looking forward to the election.
“If you win running against nobody it’s not much of a victory,” Blake said. “I thoroughly enjoy the job. I think I’m doing a good job and I understand his frustration with the system we’ve got. I share his frustration, but running as an independent you marginalize your ability to solve prolems. An independent will never be chair of a committee and the district will always be hampered by that. I am positioned as chair of the Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee and I think I’ll be able to help the district. I enjoy support from loggers, farmers and fishermen.”