SEATTLE -- Washington State Senator Michael Baumgartner tells KING 5 News he will make an official announcement Monday launching his campaign to become the first Republican challenger against U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell.
On KING 5 News Up Front, Baumgartner said he has spent weeks talking with key Republicans across the state and is ready to jump in.
”We’ve done some exploring and the response has been overwhelming and on Monday, we’ll be announcing that we’re running for U.S. Senate,” Baumgartner said.
“I’m very concerned about the direction America is on," he said in his first television interview as a candidate, "we all see the problems in D.C., the partisan bickering, the reckless spending, the seemingly endless wars, and I don’t see Maria Cantwell doing much to change that.”
The Spokane Republican says he will focus his campaign on foreign policy and the economy.
“We do need jobs growth here, we’re not going to get it from the policies of Maria Cantwell, which is going to environmental extremism, and regulatory extremism, that’s not what America was built on,” Baumgartner said.
Born in Pullman, Baumgartner went to Washington State University and got his Masters at Harvard University in International Development. He went as a civilian economics officer to Iraq, also spending time in Afghanistan, and returned to Washington State doing part-time consulting on the Middle East.
Baumgartner is a relative newcomer to politics, diving into it last fall. He ran for Washington State Senate, ousting Spokane Democrat Chris Marr in an expensive and hotly-contested race. He has served only one legislative session in Olympia, sponsoring the Senate bill to consolidate several state agencies.
“I have an obligation to the people of Spokane and Washington state to fight for better government. and I want to do that at all levels,” he said.
Baumgartner's platform for U.S. Senate includes supporting a balanced budget amendment, repealing health care reform and speeding up the withdrawal of troops.
“It’s time to bring these wars to a close, responsibly and we need people in the Senate that understand international policies and don’t just write blank checks,” Baumgartner said.
He faces numerous challenges in the months ahead. Few statewide elected officials have come from Eastern Washington, with much of the population in Western Washington. Baumgartner raised an impressive $450,000 for his state legislative campaign, but will need to raise considerably more for a statewide race.
It’s also not clear who else might jump into the race. Congressman Dave Reichert continues to consider a run, and former Bloomberg anchor Phillip Yin tells KING 5 News he is preparing to announce his candidacy later this month.
Up Front this Sunday: Our exclusive interview with Baumgartner and Yin. Up Front airs on KING 5 at 9:30 a.m.; KONG at 11 a.m.; NWCN at 8 p.m.