Van De Wege draws write-in challenger

PORT LUDLOW —A write-in candidate for the 24th Legislative District has garnered enough votes to appear on the General Election ballot to challenge state Rep. Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim.

Although Craig Durgan did not file as an official write-in candidate, he got 937 write-in votes, enough to qualify with 1 percent of the district’s electorate to get on the ballot. The spelling of his name had to be exactly the same on all of the write-in ballots.

Durgan, 55, a maritime engineer from Port Ludlow, received 860 votes in Clallam County, 58 in Jefferson County and 19 in Grays Harbor County.

Durgan said the votes were unsolicited.

“It was a surprise to me,” he said. “It wasn’t anything that I was actively pursuing. I got 1 percent of the vote, and that was enough to get on the ballot.”

He said Thursday that he doesn’t expect to campaign much. His work schedule with Noble International requires him to be away from the area from Sept. 10 to Oct. 10, after which he will be in town until just after the election.

“I’ll campaign when I can, but I’m not going to give up my job for what might be a wing and a prayer,” Durgan said.

In 2010, Durgan ran in a three-way primary against Van De Wege and collected about 18 percent of the vote.

Then, he ran as a Republican. This time, he will be listed on the ballot as having no party preference.

Durgan said he was not aware of any organized effort to place him on the ballot, but Van De Wege said he anticipated the action.

Van De Wege is convinced the write-in campaign is the result of an organized effort.

“I heard a few months ago that this was happening,” Van De Wege said. “One percent is a pretty low bar to get on the ballot. And if he conducts a write-in, he doesn’t have to pay the $400 filing fee.”

Van De Wege said the opposition won’t prompt any changes in his campaign for a fourth term.

“I’m not going to do anything differently,” he said. “I’m going to attend all of the forums and answer any questions the voters might have.”