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Republican Pedro Celis confirms he’ll challenge Suzan DelBene for U.S. House

With less than ninety days to go until the filing deadline arrives, the Republican Party has finally found a challenger for U.S. Representative Suzan DelBene: Pedro Celis, a fifty-four year old former software engineer who resides in Redmond. Celis worked for Microsoft for more than a decade and is now a member of the board of Plaza Bank, a local financial institution that serves the Latino community.

Seattle Times political reporter Jim Brunner spoke to Celis earlier today ahead of his official campaign kickoff tomorrow to get a sense of what Celis will be running on.

Celis predictably criticized DelBene’s support of the Patient Protection Act, no doubt having been told by the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) that this should be his major theme. And he also condemned DelBene for supporting an increase in the minimum wage, to $10.10 an hour.

I can’t imagine that Celis isn’t aware that Washington State has the highest minimum wage of any state in the county and that voters here have welcomed opportunities to increase the minimum wage, most recently last year in SeaTac.

In fact, the reason that our state’s minimum wage is the highest of any state in the Union is that we started indexing it to the Consumer Price Index in 2001.

A few weeks after Celis began working at Microsoft (he started in September of 1998, according to his LinkedIn profile) voters resoundingly and overwhelmingly approved Initiative 688 by a margin of nearly two-to-one – 66.1% to 33.9%.

I-688 increased the minimum wage from $4.90 to $5.70 in 1999, and then to $6.50 in 2000, providing that it be indexed to the CPI thereafter. (It’s now $9.32 an hour). It ranks as one of the most popular initiatives in Washington State history.

Celis is certainly entitled to his opinion, but raising the minimum wage has been good for Washington families and our economic security.

Prior to I-688’s passage, lobbyists for numerous trade associations predicted that bad things would happen if it became law. Here is how the Seattle Times’ Jim Lynch characterized their opposition at the time:

Washington business groups call the November ballot measure a frightening prospect that could stick the state with unreasonably high wages and put it at a competitive disadvantage.

“Scary,” says Russ Goodman, spokesman for the Washington Restaurant Association.

Scary? Try successful.  I-688 has now been the law of the land for over fifteen years, and it has contributed to the economic security of thousands of Washington families. Lately, our state has repeatedly been ranked as one of the best states to do business, and our high minimum wage actually helps our competitiveness.

What Celis doesn’t seem to appreciate is that when workers (who are the real profit creators!) are paid a higher wage, they need less public assistance and can contribute to the economic security of their neighbors.

If Celis and his campaign team think that running against the minimum wage will help him appeal to voters, they are sorely mistaken. Dino Rossi tried that in 2008 in his rematch with Chris Gregoire, and it contributed to the failure of his campaign.

Given that Celis was a supporter of the Washington State DREAM Act, signed into law today by Governor Jay Inslee, I’d be curious to know what his position is on comprehensive immigration reform. Brunner’s story doesn’t discuss that issue, although that doesn’t mean Brunner didn’t ask Celis about it during their interview.

Celis’ campaign has registered several domains to be used in conjunction with the campaign, including, which a WHOIS search shows is currently held by the National Republican Congressional Committee’s senior digital strategist Christopher Hanks. Hanks also is the registrant for

DelBene’s campaign did not mince words when asked for comment. Speaking on behalf of the campaign, Soundview Strategies’ Sandeep Kaushik told Brunner, “If you like the way the Republican Congress has forced the irresponsible government shutdown, advocates for privatizing Social Security and launched a war on women, and want more of the same, then Celis is your candidate.”


  1. Posted February 27th, 2014 at 7:56 AM | Permalink

    Good synopsis, this guy seems like a more reasonable Republican, but to the voters, that could be a liability. Del Bene is seen a close to the center and can easily tie this opponent to the shut down.

  2. wutitiz
    Posted February 27th, 2014 at 3:12 PM | Permalink

    First, no one from the NRCC needs to explain to Celis, a PhD in computer science, that Obamacare should be a focus in the campaign. This was landmark legislation that was rammed through with zero bipartisan support or input, and in particular rammed through the Senate on the basis of a parliamentary trick.

    By contrast Democrats in the 30’s and 60’s were smart enough to seek bi-partisan support and input for Social Security and Medicare.

    Now Obamacare has turned out to be a cluster****, and Democrats own it 100%. Politically it’s a no brainer to make this a focus of the 2014 election, but beyond that it’s the right thing to do, with our health care system and thus peoples’ lives at stake.

    Attacking the minimum wage, on the other hand, is politically perilous, but it is also the right thing to do. Minimum wage laws in essence cut out the bottom rungs of the employment ladder, something that a Pedro Celis doubtless understands well.

    I-688 has been a disaster for young, entry-level workers. Anyone with a teenager trying to find a summer job knows this. Since I-688 passed, WA has consistently and predictably ranked in the top 10 states for teen unemployment.

    If the bottom rungs have been torn out, you can’t start climbing your way up. Don’t worry though. You can still get an obamaphone, Medicaid, section 8 housing etc. ah the good life.

  3. Tim Matthews
    Posted March 4th, 2014 at 4:01 AM | Permalink

    We have enough anti-government Republicans in Congress. I’ll be voting to keep Suzan DelBene in Congress.

  4. Simon Anderson
    Posted March 7th, 2014 at 2:44 AM | Permalink

    100% agree, Tim.

  5. Perf Parjer
    Posted March 23rd, 2014 at 3:28 PM | Permalink

    I call the party(s) members DEMGOP’s. Because the elites have melded together in such a way as you cannot tell them apart. Celis is definitely a Democrat in disguise much like many of the Rinos. Washington State is full of them. I’ll stay conservative independent, thank you. And Celis does not need to speak of Amnesty. Marco Rubio has done it for him. Term limits will help establish a difference in party member beliefs.

One Trackback

  1. […] Pedro Celis, Republican donor and technocrat, has made his run for Congress against Rep. Suzan DelBene official, just as we predicted a few weeks back. Despite DelBene’s strong performance last year against John Koster, this race tops several lists as the most competitive in the nation. While I think that an ungodly amount of money will be spent on this race, I don’t see it going red this year. Rep. DelBene has shown herself to be an effective Congresswoman, staying in regular contact with her district, but in a tough year, it might turn ugly. […]