Former Republican congressional candidate James Watkins appears to be gearing up to run for Washington State Auditor, based on changes noted Thursday evening on his Facebook page and the establishment of a campaign website.
Republicans have yet to field a candidate for state auditor and since Watkins’ withdrawal in January from the First District Congressional race he has been mentioned as someone who could fill the very large shoes of retiring state auditor Brian Sonntag. All signs this evening indicate that Watkins may have made the decision to run.
Until ending his 2012 congressional bid and throwing his full support behind fellow Republican John Koster, Watkins maintained a public Facebook page for congressional campaign communications. Sometime before Thursday night, the title of the Facebook page changed to “James Watkins Auditor.” A quick Google search also discovered watkinsforauditor.com, a website still under construction but which features a front page shot of Watkins under the tagline “Your Watchdog in Olympia.”
An email was sent to Watkins for confirmation of his intentions, but this build-out of his online presence fuels an assumption that an announcement of some kind is imminent.
Though State Sen. Craig Pridemore (D-Vancouver) and State Rep. Mark Miloscia (D-Federal Way) are already campaigning to take over for Sonntag, neither has received an endorsement from an incumbent with broad electoral appeal.
Some political observers have privately speculated that Sonntag may not feel obligated to endorse a fellow Democrat, but could throw his support to the candidate most able to keep pushing for the auditor’s office to maintain its independent role and gain the ability to issue corrective orders to agencies falling short in performance audits.