This campaign season, Adna Grocery — a gas station, convenience store, burger joint, post office and storefront of owner Jim Smith’s smokehouse business — has been serving yet another purpose as a conservative political venue.
This summer and fall, it has been a stop on the campaign trail for candidates for positions as minor as Public Utility District commissioner all the way up to U.S. representative and senator.
On Sunday morning, a crowd of over 150 carried umbrellas and donned raincoats to hear from U.S. Senate candidate Tiffany Smiley, R-Pasco. Smith called it “overwhelming” to host her, saying the event would have been held at Bethel Church in Napavine if it wasn’t a Sunday morning.
Outwardly conservative municipal leaders, county officials, local Republican Party officials and even state legislators turned out to hear from Smiley and shake her hand. The candidate is seeking to unseat 30-year incumbent Sen. Patty Murray, D-Bothell, who became the first woman to represent Washington in the U.S. Senate in 1992.
Recent polling has shown Smiley closing the gap as the Nov. 8 general election nears, as reported by The Seattle Times. In Lewis County, the 41-year-old candidate seemed to spark energy across the conservative gamut, despite recent tensions within the party. As the divide played out in local party turmoil, one key difference between the sides seemed to be whether or not members or electeds supported former President Donald Trump or would say the 2020 election was stolen from him.
In an article by The Chronicle, State Senate Minority Leader John Braun, R-Centralia, was called a “RINO,” or Republican In Name Only, during a town hall meeting last year for saying elections were “well-run” within constraints of laws in place.
Though Smiley in a recent interview said the election was not stolen, she’s seemingly united the spread of red regardless. She’s had her praises sung by 3rd Congressional District candidate Joe Kent, R-Yacolt, who, during an interview with The Chronicle, embraced the title of “far-right.” At the same time, she’s remained attractive to moderates with a focus on criticizing inaction from Murray, voicing aspirations to work across the aisle if elected and emphasizing timeless GOP talking points such as cutting taxes and reducing government spending. This was evidenced Sunday by Braun’s appearance at the Adna Grocery event — his only visit to the venue this campaign season, he said.
“This is a real race,” Braun said. “Tiffany has really put her heart into it.”
The state Senate minority leader added that the competitive race was a “once in a generation opportunity,” saying the most recent tight race for U.S. Senate was in 2000, between current Democratic senator Maria Cantwell and the late Republican former senator Slade Gorton. One of the closest races in state history, Gorton lost by around 2,300 votes out of more than 2.4 million, amounting to a .01% difference in the final percentages.
In that race, the turnout was around 75%. While it may have been 22 years ago, the loss still appeared to be fresh in Republican minds on Sunday. State Rep. Peter Abbarno reminded the crowd of the average 70% midterm election voter turnout and pleaded with them to vote and remind their friends to do the same. During the primary last August, he said turnout was around 30%.
Monday, Oct. 31 saw the final day of registration for voters in this election. Visit https://elections.lewiscountywa.gov/current-election/ for an online voters’ guide to read more about the candidates.
Voters are encouraged to use ballot drop boxes located within the communities participating in this election. Ballots must be dropped off by 8 p.m. on election day.
Drop box locations can be found online at https://elections.lewiscountywa.gov.
Ballots should have arrived in mailboxes across Lewis County. If an individual needs a replacement or did not receive a ballot, ballots may be obtained by any of the following methods:
• Online at www.votewa.gov, log in and select “My Ballot” then “Online Ballot” to print your replacement ballot packet
• Calling 360-740-1164, 360-740-1278 or toll free within Lewis County at 1-800-562-6130 ext. 1164 or 1278;
• In-person at 351 NW North St., Chehalis, WA 98532 (Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and on election day 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.)
Accessible voting units are available during regular business hours and on election day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the Lewis County Auditor’s Office for individuals with disabilities and the elderly.