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Republican Tibbs gave $800 to Democratic candidates and party since 2006
(Editor's note: This version corrects Abby Burlingame's title in Chris Tibbs' campaign, in the fourth paragraph).
POULSBO – Republican County Commission candidate Chris Tibbs said when he announced his candidacy he told reporters that he had two things to disclose: One, he had gone through bankruptcy. Two, he contributed $500 to County Commissioner Josh Brown’s campaign.
Tibbs’ campaign giving was more generous than that.
Tibbs has contributed to the county Democratic Party and Democratic candidates six times – a total of $800, according to online records with the state Public Disclosure Commission. That’s more than the $453.60 he reported contributing to his own campaign, according to the records.
Tibbs, a former County Commission-appointed member of the Citizens Budget Advisory Committee, contributed $500 to Brown’s campaign and $50 and $25 to the Kitsap County Democratic Central Committee, all on Feb. 6, 2010, the year Brown ran for reelection against Abby Burlingame, who is listed on Tibbs' website as scheduler/media relations of Friends to Elect Chris Tibbs Commissioner.
Tibbs contributed $100 to County Assessor Walter Washington’s campaign on May 10, 2008; $100 to then-Commissioner Stephen Bauer’s campaign April 9, 2008; and $25 to the Kitsap County Democratic Central Committee March 3, 2006.
His campaign is the only Republican campaign to which he’s contributed, according to the online records.
Commissioner Rob Gelder, a Democrat and Tibbs' opponent in the Nov. 8 election, has contributed almost $4,000 to Democratic candidates and the party; of that, $3,000 was contributed to candidates and the party within the county and legislative district, according to the online records. His earliest contribution was in 2004, his latest in September this year.
Gelder's contributions include two $100 donations to Commissioner Brown's campaign on Jan. 13, 2010, a $60 donation to Brown on Feb. 18, 2010, and a $15.19 contribution to Bauer's campaign on May 1, 2008 for "kickoff party paper supplies."
Tibbs said Wednesday he went to five Democratic Party meetings with his grandfather, a Democratic Party leader, beginning in 2005. But Tibbs said he has “always identified as a Republican and stood on Republican platforms.”
“I’ve never voted for a Democrat for governor or president,” he said. In local races, he said he “voted for the person” and not the party.
“I gave Walt $100 because I know him personally. I contributed to Steve’s campaign because I felt he was the most qualified candidate,” Tibbs said. “I contributed $500 to Josh Brown because he was running for reelection and I was thankful for his faith and confidence in me.”
Tibbs, sales manager for Ootopia Coffee Roasters in Bremerton, said he decided to run for commissioner as a Republican after meeting with Burlingame to discuss recruiting a Republican to run for commission and finding that he and Burlingame agreed philosophically on all issues.
He describes himself as a “middle-of-the-road Republican, a social moderate” who wants to take a middle-of-the-road approach to managing Kitsap County. He advocates consolidating the municipal and district courts; funding essential services first – law and justice, roads, and land use; zero-base budgeting, with each department justifying its budget requests; and keeping county offices open five days a week.
County Republican Party chairman Jack Hamilton said the party was “fully aware of all of the warts (Tibbs) brought to this contest.”
“We had a lot of discussion with Chris about his past political involvement, about his business involvement, and he was forthright,” Hamilton said. “We knew he had some hurdles to jump over, but never in my discussions with him, or the vetting group’s discussions with him, did any of us come away with a feeling of unease ... He has earned the respect of the Republican Party.”
The general election is Nov. 8. Tibbs and Gelder are vying for the right to serve the one year remaining in the term, vacated earlier this year by Bauer, who resigned. Gelder was appointed to the post in March. Commissioners earn $109,907 per year. They approve laws, set policies, and manage a $325 million budget.