Yakima physician Raul Garcia today revealed he is ending his gubernatorial campaign in favor of fellow Republican Dave Reichert and will be switching to run for United States Senate against Maria Cantwell instead.
”I think it would be fiscally irresponsible… for all my donors and for all of Dave’s donors for that matter to get in a 12-round heavyweight dog fight with him… when we share so many ideals and so many values of the same,” Garcia said in remarks broadcast by KING5, which was invited to observe the filming of an endorsement video in which Garcia urges support for Reichert.
Last month, NPI’s research showed that Garcia was the early Republican frontrunner. He garnered 17% in response to a question about voters’ preferences for governor, second to Democratic Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who led the field with 25%. Another Republican, Semi Bird, got 10% in the survey.
Reciehrt, a former congressman, had considered running for governor twice before, in 2016 and 2020, but decided against it each time.
With Jay Inslee passing the torch, Reichert concluded that it was now or never, and he is now launching his 2024 gubernatorial campaign. He filed the paperwork to run a week ago and is now doing media interviews after keeping a low profile.
”Not often in life do you have the chance to do something for the benefit of the whole,” Garcia said, reflecting on the moves he’s choosing to make. “And I look at the future and I think this decision is for that benefit of the whole.”
It certainly is a logical move that other Republicans will applaud.
The Washington State Republican Party has been without a challenger to Maria Cantwell for a whole quarter of the cycle. By this point two years ago, they had recruited Tiffany Smiley to run against Patty Murray and she had begun fundraising in earnest. Garcia’s deferring to Reichert gives the party two front runners it can rally around for the two most important statewide offices.
With the WSRP having failed to recruit a challenger to Cantwell before now, NPI has been testing former United States Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler as a hypothetical opponent, and twice found Cantwell with a robust lead.
Garcia will face steep odds against the four-term senator, who has been very busy this Fourth of July recess. On Tuesday, Cantwell made an annual appearance at the Seattle Center’s naturalization ceremony. On Wednesday, she participated in the Washington State Space Summit that her office organized. Yesterday, she was in Kitsap County with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on an infrastructure investments tour stop. And today, she and Governor Inslee are meeting with incident command leaders of the Tunnel 5 wildfire in the Columbia River Gorge.
Senator Cantwell’s previous Republican general election opponents for U.S. Senate were former KIRO TV anchor and ex-state party chair Susan Hutchison (2018), Michael Baumgartner, a former state senator who is now Spokane County Treasurer (2012), insurance industry executive Mike McGavick (2006), and, of course, her predecessor Slade Gorton (2000). Cantwell’s only close race was that initial run against Gorton, in which she prevailed by less than 3,000 votes.
Since then, she has had no problem dispatching Republican opponents, who have failed to make the case that they would offer better representation than Cantwell.