RICHLAND -- A huge banner in Richland’s John Dam Plaza was emblazoned with numbers to the trillion mark written across the top to remind voters of the national debt, which many at Saturday’s Tea Party rally blamed on the Democratic Party.
About 200 people attended the event, which saw another candidate step into the running for the 4th Congressional District seat.
Jamie Wheeler of Kennewick, a member of the Tri-Cities Tea Party and Washington state director for FairTax.org, announced that she’s running for Congress against Republican Doc Hastings of Pasco.
Wheeler, 46, said she’s running for the seat representing Central Washington because she believes the FairTax proposal — a national sales tax that would replace all other forms of federal taxation — is the best strategy for making the country prosperous again.
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“It’s a sense of urgency in our financial situation, knowing there is a solution in (Washington) D.C., and yet it’s not being put in the media for the most part,” she told the Herald. “It will be a power transfer out of the hands of Congress and into the hands of ‘We the people.’”
Hastings also spoke at Saturday’s event, praising the Tea Party for its grass-roots policy and changing the country’s election process.
A bill creating the FairTax system has been introduced in Congress, but hasn’t gained enough support for a vote. Wheeler said she’s been unable to convince Hastings to support it.
She said if elected to Congress, she would become the first Northwest lawmaker to sign on in support.
“I have done everything I can to get my representative on board for numerous reasons. Part of it is a restoration of the Constitution,” she said. “The Constitution didn’t allow a tax on our income until 1913. Paychecks are our private property. ... Without private property rights, we don’t have liberty.”
But despite her fervor for the FairTax, Wheeler said she won’t be a one-issue candidate.
Wheeler, a self-described “domestic engineer” — her term for a stay-at-home mom, also supports reducing government expenditures and the national debt, and described herself as "pro-gun, pro-family and pro-free speech.”
She also works as an in-home care provider, and said she plans to bring her values of compassion and caring for people to the campaign.
She pledged that she won’t raise or spend more than $4,995 — just below the $5,000 limit that requires reporting to the Federal Election Commission — and said once she reaches that threshold she’ll ask supporters instead to donate to families in need or nonprofits.
“I am definitely people-oriented,” she said. “I hope my campaign matches my actions.”
Others who spoke Saturday included Sen. Jerome Delvin, R-Richland; Rep. Larry Haler, R-Richland; and Franklin County farmer/politician Clint Didier.
The crowd cheered when Didier climbed onto his soap box and spoke boldly about the complacency of America society.
“This park should be full of people for this rally and it isn’t,” he said.
“President Obama is a communist. There I said it out loud,” Didier said.
He warned that if Americans continue to turn a blind eye to complacency about turning the country around to be a free market with less government involvement, then eventually people should “arm themselves” and be prepared for martial law.
He challenged people to get involved with their community and fight for the rights of all Americans.
“It’s time to get to work,” he said.
Wheeler is running as a Republican. She is the second opponent to announce a run against Hastings. Democrat Mary Baechler, a Yakima businesswoman, community organizer and horse breeder, recently announced her candidacy.
Candidate filing officially opens May 14 for the August primary, which includes all federal, state and local races other than president. Washington’s presidential primary was canceled this year.
The top two vote-getters in the primary, regardless of party affiliation, will advance to the general election ballot in November.
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