WASHINGTON: Washington’s Republican candidate for governor, Bill Bryant, has finally taken a public stand on the Donald Trump question: He doesn’t support the GOP nominee for president.
“Obviously, Bill has tried to avoid having this Trump conversation, because that’s not what this election is about,” spokesman Jason Roe said Monday.
“But this weekend, he finally just said, ‘Enough is enough.’ He said he doesn’t support Trump for president, and he doesn’t support Secretary Clinton, either,” Roe said. “So now, that’s it. Let’s focus on the things that matter to voters.”
Bryant decided to put the Trump matter to rest after visiting Morton, Lewis County, this weekend and thinking about relatives, who have been active in the MIA/POW movement, Roe said.
Bryant, who had a cousin killed in Vietnam whose body was never found, flatly disagrees with Trump’s recent criticism of the Muslim parents of a slain American soldier, Roe said. Trump spoke out against the parents after the father criticized the presidential candidate’s immigration policies at the recent Democratic National Convention.
Bryant is considering supporting Libertarian Gary Johnson for president, Roe said.
For months, Bryant avoided saying whether he would or wouldn’t back the GOP’s polarizing presidential nominee, including during interviews with The Seattle Times for a recent profile on his candidacy. Bryant also skirted questions from other reporters earlier this month about Trump’s criticism of the slain soldier’s parents.
Democrats and supporters of incumbent Gov. Jay Inslee had seized on Bryant’s silence and blasted him for it.
For Bryant, staking out a position for or against Trump presented the sticky situation of potentially alienating some conservatives, undecided independents and even disgruntled Democrats from his camp. Bryant likely will need all of them to beat Inslee, who owned an 11-point advantage over the GOP challenger in the Aug. 2 primary election.
A poll released Monday by independent pollster Stuart Elway showed Inslee leading Bryant 48 percent to 36 percent among those surveyed.
Bryant, 56, who runs his own consultancy business for agricultural exporters and is a former two-term Port of Seattle commissioner, broke his silence about Trump on Monday during an interview with seattlepi.com. He declined The Times’ request for an interview on the issue on Monday.
The Bryant campaign’s public statements about Trump come two days before Bryant and Inslee’s first gubernatorial debate, which will be held in Spokane on Wednesday.
In a statement issued Monday, a spokesman for the Washington State Democrats described Bryant’s public stance on Trump as “politically craven and desperate.”