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Former Washington GOP Chairman to Challenge Patty Murray

Murray has a new GOP opponent. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former Washington GOP Chairman Chris Vance announced Tuesday morning he will challenge four-term Sen. Patty Murray.  

“I’m running because I’m fed up with the gridlock in Congress and the politicians in both parties who won’t tell the American people the truth about the challenges we face,” Vance said in a statement. “And unfortunately the truth is, after 24 years in the Senate, Patty Murray is part of the problem." When reached for comment on Sept. 3, after the Seattle Times first reported Vance was seriously considering a bid, the National Republican Senatorial Committee sounded excited about his candidacy.  

“We’ve said that we’ll have competitive candidates in every state and that’s what Chris is,” NRSC Deputy Communications Director Greg Blair told CQ Roll Call.  

With a more competitive gubernatorial race on the ballot, Republicans in the state have been slow to show interest in the Senate race . Vance has establishment ties in the state, having chaired the state party from 2001 to 2006. Before that, he was a King County Council member and he was a state representative for two terms in the early 1990s. He currently owns his own public affairs consulting group.  

A Democratic operative in the state acknowledged Murray has faced serious challenges in the past. She last won re-election in 2010 over Republican Dino Rossi by just 5 points.  

But Vance, the Democrat said, isn’t that kind of challenger.  

So far, bigger-name Republicans have shied away from the race.  

Asked if he was looking at that race or the gubernatorial contest, Rep. Dave Reichert, who represents the state's 8th District, told CQ Roll Call in May he was leaving his options open, as he often has in cycles past. But Nathan Gonzales reported last week that Reichert is seriously considering challenging Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee. If that happens, Rossi, Murray’s 2010 challenger, may look to succeed Reichert in the House.  

Republicans insist that they have an opportunity in the Evergreen State, with one GOP operative telling CQ Roll Call in May Murray was one of their 2016 targets.  

What message will Vance use to target Murray, who already had $3.8 million in the bank at the end of the second quarter?  

“That Senator Murray votes with Barack Obama’s far left-wing agenda that’s put our country’s safety in jeopardy,” Washington Republican Party Chairwoman Susan Hutchison told CQ Roll Call on Sept. 3. "That it’s time for a change."  

Since President Barack Obama has been in office, Murray has voted with the president 98 percent of time, according to CQ's Vote Watch .  

But since her last re-election Murray has become well-known for crossing the aisle, negotiating a budget deal with Republican Rep. Paul D. Ryan while still keeping her base happy by advocating for issues like a higher federal minimum wage.  

Earlier this year, Murray brokered a deal with Texas Sen. John Cornyn on human trafficking legislation. She won bipartisan praise for negotiating a budget deal in 2013.  

Democrats are eager to point out Vance has been one of those Republicans who has praised Murray. Despite expressing initial doubts about her, he told the Washington Examiner in 2013 that she was "an incredibly skilled lawmaker."  

In a video on his website  Tuesday, Vance emphasized that his campaign would be devoid of "cheesy, Hollywood-style attack ads" and would focus instead on specific policy proposals.  

"My highest priority is to help pass a debt reduction and economic stimulus plan based on the work of the Simpson-Bowles Commission, a commission of Republicans and Democrats, business and labor, appointed by President Obama in 2010,” he said in his Tuesday statement.  

The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report /Roll Call rates the race Safe Democrat .  

Related:

Sources: Reichert Seriously Considering Washington Governor's Race
Roll Call Race Ratings Map: Ratings for Every House and Senate Race in 2016

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