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Fortunato, Republican candidate for governor, visits Moses Lake

by EMRY DINMAN
Staff Writer | July 1, 2020 11:36 PM

MOSES LAKE — State senator and gubernatorial candidate Phil Fortunato, R-Auburn, stopped at Civic Park in Moses Lake on Wednesday to lay out his plans for addressing a number of key issues, drawing an audience of around a dozen.

The legislator talked about a number of policies and administrative decisions he would address as governor, including homelessness, housing affordability and the long-term funding of transportation infrastructure improvements, among others.

Harold Hochstatter, himself a former state senator who served for a time with Fortunato, was among those in attendance and carried one of Fortunato’s campaign signs with him Wednesday. Hochstatter said in an interview that he has donated money to Fortunato’s campaign for governor because of his mix of experience and willingness to go against the grain, even in his own caucus.

In comments captured in a book of quips called “Hochstatter’s 100,” the former legislator referred to the corrupting influence of institutionalism and told his own caucus they were “legislative eunuchs” for ceding power to the executive branch.

“Phil is feeling the same thing, the caucus really doesn’t have a spine,” Hochstatter said.

While Hochstatter felt that most other candidates either didn’t seem to be passionate about specific issues or else were too narrow in their campaigns, he said that Fortunato seemed to strike a good balance between the two. However, Hochstatter noted that he is still interested in hearing from former Bothell mayor and real estate developer Joshua Freed, another Republican candidate.

For 85-year-old retired mortgage broker and former farmer Cheri Smith, who was also in attendance and is still considering the different candidates, Fortunato’s biggest strength is his experience.

“I think politics is a very muddy area, and I think it can be very tough to get through and get things done,” Smith said.

With years of experience in real estate, she added that she appreciated Fortunato’s stance on decreasing regulatory burdens and shifting the state’s focus from subsidized apartments to single-family homes in order to relieve homelessness and to enable working families to grow their wealth. Smith said she’d like to see a greater proportion of the state directly contributing to property taxes and becoming more engaged with the things those taxes fund.

Smith added that her husband, a retired engineer, would like to see a renewed focus on improving the state’s aging transportation infrastructure, particularly bridges, which Fortunato said could be paid for by redirecting existing sales taxes on cars into those projects.

For Robin Fode, an active member of the Republican Women of Grant County, this isn’t just another election, and the main goal is to unseat the incumbent.

“Our state, to me, has been systematically dismantled over the years that Inslee’s been in office: economically, socially, with the homeless situation,” Fode said. “It has really become a split state under Inslee like never before. Whoever gets into office will have a big job.”

While she said that she’s been actively listening to the various candidates and encourages voters to educate themselves about as many as possible, and she thinks they all have their strengths, there are a couple of key qualities that she said she’s looking for in a candidate.

“For me, it’s making sure that they’re not just good storytellers, but when you ask a question, they answer you directly; they really have a plan,” Fode said. “And I don’t feel that all of them have a workable, solid plan.”

To that end, Fode worked in a few questions for Fortunato during Wednesday’s meet and greet, largely about how the westside Republican would work to unify the state. But, she stressed, she plans to stand behind whichever Republican gets the nomination.

The Herald plans to publish an article in the near future based on an interview with Sen. Fortunato.

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Emry Dinman/Columbia Basin Herald Sen. Phil Fortunato, a Republican and candidate for governor, talked to a small crowd at Civic Park on Wednesday, the latest stop in his campaign to secure the Republican nomination in August and go on to face Gov. Jay Inslee in the general election.

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Emry Dinman/Columbia Basin Herald Sen. Phil Fortunato, a Republican and candidate for governor, talked to a small crowd at Civic Park on Wednesday, the latest stop in his campaign to secure the Republican nomination in August and go on to face Gov. Jay Inslee in the general election.

photo

Emry Dinman/Columbia Basin Herald Sen. Phil Fortunato, a Republican and candidate for governor, talked to a small crowd at Civic Park on Wednesday, the latest stop in his campaign to secure the Republican nomination in August and go on to face Gov. Jay Inslee in the general election.

photo

Emry Dinman/Columbia Basin Herald Sen. Phil Fortunato, a Republican and candidate for governor, talked to a small crowd at Civic Park on Wednesday, the latest stop in his campaign to secure the Republican nomination in August and go on to face Gov. Jay Inslee in the general election.