The first non-Republican candidate in the race to replace retiring Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Pasco, officially kicked off his campaign Sunday.
Josh Ramirez, 36, played host to a meet-and-greet at the Wing-Stop restaurant in Pasco, the city he calls home. The Washington River Protection Solutions project control specialist seeks to take on the "partisan group think" in Washington, D.C.
"Our flag is made up of three different colors, not just red or blue," said Ramirez, who calls himself a "moderate independent." "I believe that being an independent, I am free to represent all people without having to tow a party line. I believe that partisanship has been divisive and counterproductive."
Ramirez, a father of four, has seen firsthand the problems people at Hanford go through because of uncertain federal funding levels there, he said.
"It creates instability. We're on the constant ramp down, ramp up," he said. "That just isn't good for families in the Tri-Cities that work at Hanford because we have layoffs and rehires. I want to work on ways to stabilize that."
Ramirez also wants jobs brought back to the United States. He would like to see government work with companies and improve policies to make it worth bringing the jobs back.
Ramirez will talk about "liberty, love and equality" in the campaign, he said. That involves loving your country, family and countrymen. "As a veteran and family man, that is at the core of my foundation," he said.
Ramirez is raising money for the campaign on his own website, as well as a crowdfunding site called GoFundMe.
Candidates file for the position in May, with the primary Aug. 5. The top two vote getters, regardless of party, advance to the Nov. 4 general election.
Republicans who have declared for the race include former state Department of Agriculture director and lawmaker Dan Newhouse of Sunnyside, state Sen. Janea Holmquist Newbry of Moses Lake, Franklin County Commissioner Brad Peck, farmer and former NFL tight end Clint Didier of Eltopia, Ephrata artist and filmmaker Gavin Seim and Kennewick caregiver Jamie Wheeler.
Kennewick attorney George Cicotte is expected to officially announce his candidacy Thursday.