In a surprising shift, the San Juan County Democrats, who have historically been fans of U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen (D), have thrown their support behind an independent challenger in the Aug. 5 primary for Washington’s 2nd Congressional District.
As detailed in this editorial from the Journal of the San Juan Islands and this press release from the San Juan Democrats, all 50 Democrats who attended one of three meetings held last weekend voted to support independent Mike Lapointe.
From the Journal's editorial:
"In the 2012, Larsen faced five challengers in the August primary, including Lapointe, at that time a 99 Percent Party candidate. Larsen drew nearly 64 percent of 5,683 votes cast in San Juan County that year. Lapointe received 4.3 percent, 244 votes in all. So, why the rift? Well, evidently Larsen, who has long enjoyed strong support in the heavily democratic, left-leaning San Juans, has local Dems disgruntled over his middle-of-the-road stance on the proposed coal export facility at Cherry Point, as well as the escalation of noise from Navy jets—the Growlers—stationed at NAS Whidbey."
In the Dems’ press release, they explained their thinking:
"The main factors in this decision were the incumbent’s failure to adequately address two of the primary concerns of the citizens of the San Juan Islands, namely the potential negative environmental and economic consequences of building the Gateway Pacific Terminal coal export facility near Bellingham that will ship massive amounts of coal through our county's waters, as well as the quality-of-life and health-destroying noise of the Navy’s Growler jets based on Whidbey Island. Instead of endorsing our corporate-funded incumbent, we are excited to endorse Mike Lapointe, an independent candidate of the people who accepts no corporate contributions. Mike will fight against the coal terminal and the Growler jets, and he will also fight for green jobs to replace fossil fuel-related jobs.
Mike is actually more true to our Democratic Party platform than the incumbent. Mike Lapointe represents our values."
Incumbent Larsen, who has held the two-year position since 2000, will face off against B.J. Guillot, a Republican software developer, and Lapointe, an independent with experience as a union organizer.
The top two vote-getters will advance to the Nov. 4 general election.