Newhouse latest to enter race for Congressional seat

Tri-City HeraldFebruary 20, 2014 

Thursday marked the fourth consecutive day that a Republican candidate officially announced a run for Washington's 4th Congressional District seat.

This time, it was former state Department of Agriculture Director Dan Newhouse's turn. Newhouse, also a four-term member of the state House of Representatives, touted his experience in cutting agency budgets in a news release.

Newhouse, of Sunnyside, promised to work to repeal the recently-implemented federal health care legislation, protect the dams in the region and find additional water storage if elected. He also said he will keep pressure on the Department of Energy to clean up the Hanford site in a timely manner.

"I was born in the Yakima Valley, virtually in the shadow of Hanford," he told the Herald after announcing his candidacy at the Yakima SunDome. "I am very familiar with Hanford, and I think I'll be very comfortable about being able to engage and learn more about Hanford."

Newhouse's family is "100 percent" behind his run and so are many others, he said.

"My phone's been burning up with people encouraging me to do so," he said.

Newhouse served in the state Legislature from 2003-09, and received awards for being a "pro-business" legislator, including from the National Federation of Independent Business and the Association of Washington Business.

He served as agriculture director from 2009-12 after being appointed by then-Gov. Chris Gregoire, a Democrat. His family operates a 600-acre farm where they grow hops, tree fruit, grapes and alfalfa.

Newhouse was a spokesman for a 2013 campaign against state Initiative 522, which would have required labeling on some foods containing genetically modified organisms. The initiative failed narrowly statewide, but was rejected by more than 70 percent of voters in several counties in the more conservative 4th Congressional District.

The campaign against the initiative came under criticism for being funded largely by out-of-state interests. But Newhouse said both sides took a good deal of money from outside Washington.

"It had potential implications all over the country," he said. "We were under the microscope here in Washington, so it had a lot of interest from outside the state."

Dealing with the GMO issue is better done at the federal level, he said.

"That's where it should be, instead of each state coming up with a patchwork of regulations," he said.

Central Washington Republicans have been racing to enter the race since Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Pasco, announced last week that he will not seek an 11th term in Washington, D.C.

Former pro football player and Eltopia farmer Clint Didier announced he will run on Monday, Franklin County Commissioner Brad Peck on Tuesday and state Sen. Janea Holmquist Newbry of Moses Lake on Wednesday.

Republican Gavin Seim of Ephrata has also said he will run, as has independent Josh Ramirez of Pasco. Republicans state Sen. Sharon Brown and attorney George Cicotte, both of Kennewick, have set up exploratory committees for the election.

-- Geoff Folsom: 509-582-1543;; Twitter: @GeoffFolsom

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