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Embattled Washington Legislator Matt Shea Won't Be On The Ballot This Year

Austin Jenkins
Northwest News Network
File photo. Washington state Rep. Matt Shea, here at a recent protest against coronavirus safety measures in Olympia, will not be on the ballot this year for his current eastern Washington Legislative District 4 seat.

It’s long been known in eastern Washington that Matt Shea is not your typical politician.

Now, he won’t be on the ballot for the upcoming August primary.

The 4 p.m. candidate filing deadline on Friday came and went with no sign of Shea. 

Spokane County Auditor Vicki Dalton confirmed that Shea would not be on the primary election ballot in August.

Instead, he was at Spokane City Hall with about 100 other people railing against the state’s public health measures. 

“Tyranny is a disease. A virus, if you will,” Shea said to the crowd. “I submit to you that we should tell Gov. Inslee today that it is our aim to quarantine tyrants in America.”

Former state legislator Leonard Christian was at the county elections office waiting for Shea to register so he could run against Shea.

“Well he’s not on the ballot anywhere,” Christian told the public media Northwest News Network at the Spokane County Elections Office. “So bottom line he’s out of politics.”

Instead, Christian is now running against former Spokane County treasurer Rob Chase, a fellow Republican, and three other first-time candidates.

In December, the state House released a report by an independent investigator that concluded Shea is a leader in the Patriot Movement, has close ties to militia groups and played a role in three armed standoffs, including the 2016 occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.

He was kicked out of the House GOP caucus, but at the time, Shea said he wouldn’t resign his seat.

Washington’s 5th Congressional District

In other eastern Washington candidate news, the race for the state’s eastern most congressional seat in Congressional District 5 is now firmed up.

Incumbent Republican Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers is running to keep the seat she’s held since being elected in 2004.

In a virtual re-election campaign kick-off this week, McMorris Rodgers did not avoid the topic that kept her from holding a rally in person.

The coronavirus pandemic has created anxiety and uncertainty, she said. But it’s also highlighted the power of American ingenuity and capitalism.

Still, she criticized Washington Gov. Jay Inslee for the state’s public health measures.

“Eastern Washington isn’t Seattle. Waiting for plans written by a few people in Olympia that are designed for Puget Sound is creating confusion and anger,” she said. “It’s time for us to create confidence to reopen with a regional strategy, county by county, to start living outside our homes again.”

McMorris Rodgers is in her eighth term in Congress. This year, she faces four other candidates, including another Republican: Stephen Major of Spokane Valley, who owns a company that leads expeditions looking for Bigfoot.

On the Democratic side is Chris Armitage, a former base defense operations controller at Fairchild Air Force Base west of Spokane. And Dave Wilson, who has run against McMorris Rodgers two times, unsuccessfully, and lost a state legislative House race in 2018.

One independent candidate named Brendan O'Regan     filed to run. But that person’s address is in Seattle, which is not in eastern Washington’s 5th Congressional District. O’Regan’s filing did not include a phone number or email.

Nick Deshais roams eastern Washington, North Idaho and northeastern Oregon as the Inland Northwest correspondent for the Northwest News Network.