This is a Sentinel opinion piece, based on breaking news that candidate Dan Christopher this week sent out two campaign letters, each aimed at one of the two political parties and with highly contradictory messages.
“Diaper Dan is at it again,” one reader wrote recently, speaking of Dan Christopher and referring to Christopher’s main campaign message: “Politicians and diapers need to be changed often, and for the same reason.” Christopher, running for Klickitat County Commissioner Position 3, has been using that old and unpleasant quote as a basis for his campaign, as if change were an end to be sought at any cost. He disregards the fact that it’s what kind of change that matters, not just change for its own sake. But he’s also astonishingly duplicitous—two-faced—as shown by his new campaign letters.
There are two. They just came out this week. Each goes to different homes. One is aimed squarely at Democrats. The other is aimed squarely at Republicans. They have very different, conflicting messages. They demonstrate that Christopher’s chief goal is to win, and he doesn’t care how.
His letter courting Democratic voters, who pine for fresh blood on the board of commissioners, positions him as the voice of change, and he calls himself the “bipartisan choice”—but what he does not reveal is that he is a hard-core Republican who would favor the opposite of most Democratic agendas. That is evidenced in his message to Democrats. Knowing that Democrats in Klickitat County are desperate for fresh, egalitarian representation in county government, Christopher puts his bait on the line for hungry voters to bite. He paints imagery that lights up longing hearts: “I love helping people and it doesn’t matter their political party, race, sex, or sexual orientation,” he says. “Democrats have been locked out of our county’s politics and decisions for decades. I think they deserve a seat at the policy table. The county’s Republican Party does not like that idea…” All this from a well-right-of-center Republican. Why didn’t he say all that in his letter to Republicans?
Here’s what he did say in his letter to Republicans: “If the anti-gun ballot measure I-1639 taught us anything, it is that my Republican opponent is not a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment.” Christopher is chiding Jim Sizemore for being weak on gun rights. Christopher points out he will support the sheriff. Why didn’t he say all that in his letter to Democrats?
His letter to Republicans also repeats his bizarre notion about the county budget. He insists that the county overspent—giving no reference to any standard against which that statement can be gauged—and therefore the budget cannot be balanced. The statement betrays his own astonishing ignorance of large-scale governmental finances. He repeats charges against Sizemore, reiterating his mistaken idea that because Sizemore didn’t refute his own statements that Christopher quotes, that means they had to have been made in the contexts Christopher depicts.
Christopher’s new letters have gone through some editing; they’re cleaner of misspellings—his letter in July was riddled with English errors—though throughout the new letters he continually refers to Democrats and Republicans as “democrats” and “republicans”—apparently unaware that the terms, with lower case letters, mean something entirely different than the political parties. And he’s running for an executive position where exactitude of meaning is critical.
Along with this editorial, The Sentinel is putting up the original campaign letter Christopher sent out before the primary. I suspect he would not wish it to be seen again, and for good reason. It’s filled with his ultra-right-wing ravings, petty and unkind attacks against his opponent, and, most importantly, claims that The Sentinel fact checked and demonstrated to be almost entirely untrue. That letter praises Sheriff Bob Songer, though he could not persuade Songer to endorse him. It clearly establishes Christopher as the “Constitutional Republican” that he calls himself, someone who feels moderate conservatives are not conservative enough—a leaning grossly at odds with Democratic values and sensitivities.
Christopher is right about Democratic under-representation in the county, and no one of conscience would deny that all people deserve and ought to have fair and equal representation. Dan Christopher is not the person who can deliver that. Examine the difference in tone between Christopher’s first campaign letter and these two-faced new ones: it’s difficult to conclude that the change is due to a profound and sweeping change of heart. Rather, it’s due to a profound and sweeping change of tactics.