The election for state Representative position No. 2 of the 19th Legislative district will look like a rematch of the 2018 general election as Republican Joel McEntire will be facing off against Democrat incumbent Brian Blake.
In 2018, Blake, of Longview, secured 58 percent of the votes in the primary while McEntire, of Cathlamet, finished in second with 21.8 percent of the votes. The margin of difference narrowed sharply in the 2018 general election when Blake held on to 54 percent of the vote and McEntire received 46 percent.
Another term for Blake would give him two more years to add onto his 18-year tenure as a District 19 state Rep. while for McEntire, it would be his first position as a state legislator.
The general election is on Nov. 3. Races with only two candidates do not appear on the August primary.
Joel McEntire (Republican)
McEntire, raised in Cathlamet and a graduate of Wahkiakum High School, is back running for the same seat he competed for in 2018.
However, back in 2018, the current Marine Corps staff sergeant’s campaign was put in an awkward position when he was deployed to Kuwait for a few months right in the swing of the political season.
McEntire is not on active duty now, and he suspects he will be able to give his 2020 campaign his undivided attention.
His connections to politics came shortly after he began his military service in 2011. When McEntire was a student at Central Washington University — just after his first deployment — he got involved in the College Republicans and was elected as the vice chairman of the Kittitas County Republican Party.
“I got involved, not just in college, but in grown-up politics,” McEntire said.
After college, McEntire worked as a science teacher at John C. Thomas Middle School in Cathlamet, got his master’s degree from Western Governors University in mathematics and education and is currently a student mentor at WGU to help other students get their master’s degree.
McEntire said the platform he is running on is an ever changing dynamic, particularly with the COVID-19 crisis.
Initially, McEntire said, his campaign was focused around accountability in government, lowering taxes and “taking some of the teeth out of the bureaucracy that seems to have a lot of power in our state.” But, of course, COVID-19 took center stage.
“What people want is to get back to work and they want to get back to work immediately,” McEntire said. He added that it is his pledge to the voters that he will get Southwest Washingtonians back to work if he is elected and spotlight “the government’s inability to manage the situation properly.”
McEntire felt he is the best candidate for the job because, “It’s clear that our representative right now is not in touch with the wants and desires of the voters. It’s not a mud-sling or anything like that, it's just if i thought our representative Brian Blake was on point, I wouldn’t be running, I would be supporting him, but he’s not.”
For more information on McEntire, visit: joelmcentire.com
Brian Blake (Democrat)
As the incumbent, Blake is currently in his 18th year representing District 19 as state Rep. No. 2, but will note that his ties to Southwest Washington go back much further. According to Blake, his family lineage has been tethered to the region since the 1880’s when his ancestors first moved to the area.
Blake began his career as a logger, but a serious work-related accident gave way to him joining the political arena.
Blake said he got started in politics in the 1990’s during a dispute over public lands — something he still advocates for — where the state had categorized Elk River, a popular fishing and hunting spot, as a Natural Area Preserve and that hunting and fishing were no longer allowed.
“We organized as a community and approached our legislators … and we were able to get it changed from a Natural Area Preserve to a Natural Resource Conservation Area,” where fishing and hunting was allowed, Blake said.
He added: “Folks noticed my activism and said, ‘hey you ought to run for office,’” and he has been in the political arena ever since.
As chair of the House committee on Rural Development, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Blake said that he is “constantly working to see that natural resource communities, workers and industries get a fair shake in the legislative and regulatory process.”
Blake added that he believes he has the experience as a state legislator and the relationships established with the rest of Olympia to keep moving the 19th Legislative District forward.
“While the governor controls many of the state agencies, we have a commissioner of public lands … Our state parks are managed by an independent commission, our Department of Fish and Wildlife are managed by an independent commission — I think I have the ability to work with all of those folks to solve problems,” Blake said.
For more information on Blake, visit: electbrianblake.com