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Heck files to run for Lieutenant Governor

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On March 19th, in reporting that Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib would not run for re-election, I flagged a few names worth watching to see if they would announce a run at the open seat.

I featured State Sen. Steve Hobbs, who announced later that same day. I also flagged another candidacy that not everyone had on their radar screen.

“US Rep. Denny Heck, who is retiring from congress, may also want to make a run at this statewide position.”

Over the weekend, Heck filed paperwork with the PDC to start fundraising for the position of Lt. Governor.

This makes him the third Democrat to enter the race.

Heck announced his retirement from Congress in December in an open letter saying he “gave it all I had.”

From that letter:

I promise to “run through the tape” until the end of my term and continue to work hard and give it my best. But after that, Paula awaits as well as at least two books I will write. And more movies and sleep and time at the cabin. Washington State so has it over Washington, D.C.

If you’re close to state government, you know that – outside of the legislative session – the position of Lt. Governor affords one the opportunity to do much of what Heck says he is after in this post.

It’s not a terribly high power position, in most instances, though its importance may change in the coming term should Inslee move into a federal cabinet position.

Otherwise, this role allows the office holder to make of it what he or she will.

Prior to Habib, who ulitmately decided he could have more impact outside of the office, Brad Owen served in the position for years following a tough 1996 primary. Owen worked to address drug use and foster international trade, becaming America’s longest currently serving lieutenant governor by the time he left office.

Joel Pritchard served prior to Owen, moving into a role of semi-retirement. He had previously re-invigorated the Republican Party with colleagues Slade Gorton and Dan Evans, among other significant roles in public service in his career including a stint in Congress.

From 1957 to 1989, John Cherberg held the post, serving with five governors. During much of that time, he also worked as an account executive at KIRO, given the low salary of the Lt. Gov. position at the time.

This will be a quick race between now and August 4th. Raising money will be difficult.

However, Heck currently has $1.1m cash on hand, after debts, from his federal races. From the FEC as of April 6th:

Of this amount, Heck can move over about $488,000. That’s the amount he has raised for his 2020 race. The remaining amount – the difference between the $1.1m cash on hand and the $488k is likely the amount he held in surplus from 2018 and prior. I don’t believe that money is eligible to move over to a state race.

However, the $488k is still a meaningful amount, if he can move over a significant portion of it.

Moving that money over to a state race won’t be easy. To move money, you need donors to sign a statement saying that it’s ok to move the funds to a different race. It creates a lot of administrative paperwork that is doable but tedious.

Heck’s donors for his 2020 race were mostly individuals and in-state tribal entities. Presumably, these folks would be relatively open to moving their federal contribution to Heck’s state race. That won’t become completely clear to the public, however, until the paperwork is done and reported, which won’t likely be until May’s filing deadline at the earliest.

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