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Wash. State Republicans Allege Vote Suppression Campaign

Ted S. Warren
AP Photo
FILE - In this photo taken Jan. 14, 2013, Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch, sits at his desk on the Senate floor at the Capitol in Olympia, Washington.

Republicans say an out-of-state Democratic group is trying to suppress the GOP vote in a hotly-contested Washington state Senate race.

The state Republican Party filed a formal election complaint Tuesday against a group called American Values First. 

For months, Democrats in Washington have been trying to defeat one of their own. Democratic state Sen. Tim Sheldon joined with Republicans in 2012 to help them take control of the Washington Senate.

But last week, flyers started arriving in voter mailboxes praising Sheldon — as a champion for undocumented immigrants, Obamacare and women’s reproductive rights. Sheldon believes it’s false praise with an ulterior motive in a race that features two Democrats on the ballot.

“I’m the more conservative of the Democrats, so they’re trying to get the Republicans not to vote in the race," Sheldon said.

The group behind the mailers is based in Washington, D.C and has ties to a national Democratic campaign committee. Asked if this is a vote suppression effort, a spokesman for American Values First said: “We are simply applauding Senator Sheldon for casting votes that we agree with.”

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.