When Richard Wright, a Kennewick physical therapist and business owner, collected 40 percent of the vote in the 2006 general election against Republican Congressman Doc Hastings, it was the best showing of any opponent to face Hastings since 1996.
Now Hastings is retiring, and Wright is running as a political independent for the 4th Congressional District seat. He is vying against 11 other candidates to be one of two who move on from the Aug. 5 primary to this fall's general election.
Wright has the experience and drive to represent the Mid-Columbia and get government working again, he said.
"These parties are not compromising, and as an independent I can help bring those parties together," he told the Herald.
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Wright, 62, was born and raised in Pasco, graduating from Pasco High School in 1970. He attended Brigham Young University for four years and graduated from the University of Washington School of Physical Therapy in 1979.
He opened his first physical therapy clinic in Moses Lake in 1982. It has expanded to 14 clinics in three states employing 75 people. He moved to Kennewick in the mid-1980s, has been married for 38 years and has six adult children.
Wright also ran for Hastings' seat in 2004, but came in last in the primary. He ran as a Democrat that year as well as in 2006.
He describes himself as a conservative on social issues and said his successful business, built without loans or debt, demonstrates his ability to keep a budget and lead.
"I feel like the experience I've had in business and health care match the problems we're having now," he said.
Wright isn't a fan of the Affordable Care Act, though he isn't opposed to a national health care system, as long as it's not required and not subsidized by the government, he said. He also wants to preserve Social Security and Medicaid, social programs that serve a valuable purpose but have been poorly managed.
The ongoing efforts to clean up the Hanford site show the need for more attention on environmental issues, he said, and he wants to do more to help students attend college or vocational training.
The country also needs to revamp its foreign policy approach, he said. His travels abroad have shown him others respect the U.S. for its freedoms and economy but there's wariness about the nation's motives and interests.
"I really think the best way to learn about your country is to get outside it," he said.
What's most important, however, is breaking the deadlock in Congress so that the federal government can get back to representing citizens rather than those with the most money, he said.
U.S. representatives receive an annual salary of $174,000 and are elected for two-year terms.
Wright had not raised any money as of the first filing deadline, according to the Federal Election Commission.
Primary ballots will be mailed to registered voters by Friday.
The two candidates receiving the most votes move on to the general election.
-- For more election stories, go to tricityherald.com/election.
-- Ty Beaver: 509-582-1402; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @_tybeaver; Google+: +TyBeaverTCHerald