Former school board member enters race for Congress

January 31, 2012

By Warren Kagarise

Larry Ishmael, a former Issaquah School Board member and Republican challenger to U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee in 2006 and 2008, is running for Congress in the redrawn 1st Congressional District.

The independent candidate eschewed a party label for the latest run, but said voters seek a candidate unattached to the political establishment in either party.

“The reasons I ran in 2006 are the same reasons I am running today, bitter partisan politics have destroyed Congress’s ability to accomplish anything for the American people,” he said in a statement. “The only way to break the cycle of pain is to elect more independents that are willing to represent their constituents in Congress and not their political party or special interest groups.”

Ishmael faltered in the contests against the incumbent Democrat, garnering 32 percent against Inslee in 2006 and 2008 — both strong years for Democrats in Washington and nationwide. Inslee is running for governor against Republican state Attorney General Rob McKenna.

The former Issaquah Chamber of Commerce chairman opted not to run against Inslee in 2010, and instead focused on doctoral studies in economics at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa.

In 2010, GOP candidate James Watkins received 42 percent against Inslee.

Ishmael served on the school board in 2003, and served as board president in 2004 and 2005. Then, he resigned in August 2006 amid a run for Congress. (Brian Deagle, a Sammamish resident and attorney, succeeded Ishmael.)

In the latest run for Congress, Ishmael faces a crowded field in the race for the seat, as candidates clamor to run for the open seat on a reshaped political map. The redrawn district stretches northward from Redmond through King, Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom counties.

The field includes the challengers to U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert in 2006, 2008 and 2010 — Democrats Darcy Burner and Suzan DelBene — plus John Koster, the GOP challenger to incumbent Democrat Rick Larsen in a close 2010 contest.

Redistricting shifted Koster from Larsen’s 2nd Congressional District. The change also bounced Burner and DelBene from Reichert’s 8th Congressional District into the 1st District. (Issaquah remains in a more rural 8th District under the redrawn map.)

Other Democrats in the 1st District race include former state Rep. Laura Ruderman, state Rep. Roger Goodman, state Sen. Steve Hobbs and businessman Darshan Rauniyar.

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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