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posted Friday, August 13, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 33
R71 bigots resurface in Koster campaign
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R71 bigots resurface in Koster campaign

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Old bigots never die. Sometimes they don't even fade away, they just keep coming back for campaign after campaign.

This year, John Koster's 2nd District congressional campaign provides a home for many anti-Gay veterans of the 2009 Referendum 71 campaign.

Koster, a Sarah Palin-endorsed Republican, is running for Congress against incumbent Democrat Rick Larsen. The 2nd District takes in Snohomish, Skagit, Whatcom, and Island Counties, and a piece of northeast King County.

Koster is presently a Snohomish County Council member. He was a state Representative from 1995 till 2001.

As a state representative, Koster's claim to fame was his "Freedom County" resolution - seeking to allow his hometown of Arlington to secede from Snohomish County and set up its own county government.

While Koster pitched "Freedom County" as an anti-tax paradise, it was widely believed that it was intended as a haven for right-wing extremists.

In 2000, Koster gave up his legislative seat to run unsuccessfully against Larsen for Congress.

Koster himself is a vocal opponent of domestic partnership rights, and he was a supporter of the No on Referendum 71 campaign, seeking to abolish them.

His campaign manager this year is none other than Larry Stickney, one-time president of the Washington Values Alliance (WAVA), the author of Referendum 71, and campaign manager for Protect Marriage Washington.

Stickney and Koster go back a long way.

Stickney managed Koster's first congressional campaign against Larsen in 2000. The next year he managed Koster's winning County Council campaign, after which he became Koster's legislative aide.

In that post, Stickney drafted Council Resolution 03-026 which Koster sponsored, supporting the City of Everett's controversial monument to the Ten Commandments.

Stickney also helped draft a 2006 Koster amendment to the Snohomish County budget seeking to strike funding for a December holiday program because Seattle Men's Chorus was scheduled to perform there.

Stickney and Koster see eye to eye on LGBT rights.

"I didn't create the institution of marriage," Koster told the Seattle Times recently, "God did. If you think it should be changed, take it up with the author."

Koster also opposes reproductive choice, arguing that abortion should never be legal - even in cases of rape, incest, or danger to the mother's life.

Several Referendum 71 supporters appear on Koster's endorsement list, including Pastor Richard Long of Atonement Free Lutheran Church and his wife Barbara, Pastor Bill Walker of Arlington's First Baptist Church and his wife Mary, and Swede and Sharon Johnson of Snohomish.

Strangely enough, centrist Republicans Rob McKenna and Dave Reichert have joined noted right-wingers Val Stevens, Norma Smith, Barbara Bailey, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, and Doc Hastings to endorse Koster's campaign.

Besides Sarah Palin and her SarahPAC, Koster has been endorsed by Team America PAC - the anti-immigrant group headed by Tom Tancredo and Bay Buchanan (Pat's look-alike sister) - Human Life of Washington, the Christian Homeschool Network, and the Washington State Eagle Forum, among other groups.

While Larsen beat Koster in 2000 by only four points, he beat his most recent opponent, Republican John Bart, by a whopping 62-38%.

The district went for Democratic presidential candidates Al Gore and John Kerry, and President Obama carried it handily with 55% of the vote in 2008.

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