Davidson battles challenger Pellicciotti for treasurer job

Davidson Battles Challenger Pellicciotti For Treasurer Job

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — State Treasurer Duane Davidson is a rare and endangered species as he seeks re-election in a race against Democrat Mike Pellicciotti.

Davidson is one of only two Republicans, along with Secretary of State Kim Wyman, who hold statewide office in Washington. He’s the only resident of eastern Washington holding statewide office.

He’s endangered because Pellicciotti won 150,000 more votes in the primary election and is considered the favorite to win the office that manages billions of dollars in state revenues. The treasurer is the state’s chief financial officer, responsible for managing cash flow, debt and major investments. The treasurer also manages the sale of bonds that fund government projects.

Davidson believes he’s earned a second term.

“I want to be returned,″ Davidson, 61, said, describing a list of accomplishments during his first term in the often-obscure office.

They include devising tools that help local governments get higher returns on their investments; tools that help local governments pay lower interest rates when they issue bonds; and creation of a financial literacy department that helps Washington residents attain financial goals.

Pellicciotti, a Democratic state representative from Federal Way, criticizes Davidson for missing many meetings of the various boards upon which the state treasurer serves.

“I’m going to show up and do the job,″ the 42-year-old Pellicciotti said.

Davidson responded that he deliberately appointed talented experts to attend meetings of boards that manage the state’s guaranteed college tuition program, state pensions, and a low-income housing program.

“I’m not shrugging my responsibilities at all,″ Davidson said. “That’s one of the most bizarre things to criticize me for.″

Democrats have poured money into Pellicciotti’s campaign, hoping to oust the first Republican state treasurer since 1953, Davidson said.

Davidson said he believes the job should be non-partisan.

“I am not a partisan person,″ he said. “I have hired Democrats.″

Davidson was raised in Carnation, east of Seattle. But he has spent most of his adult life in eastern Washington, including four terms as the Benton County treasurer. He believes that experience is crucial.

He has an accounting degree from Central Washington University and is a widower with three adult children.

Pellicciotti points to his two terms as a state legislator as providing excellent training for the treasurer job. He said he has focused in the Legislature on issues of financial transparency, such as getting dark money out of politics.

He has never accepted corporate financial donations, and said he would have the ear of lawmakers as he managed the state’s finances.

Pellicciotti said it would be a priority to maintain the state’s excellent bond rating, which allows the state to borrow money at lower interest rates.

The Indiana native is single and a graduate of Gonzaga Law School.

Pellicciotti criticized Davidson for “holding political fundraisers with bank lobbyists.″ Davidson contends there is no ethical prohibition against taking political contributions from banks

Pellicciotti said his legislative experience will help him guide lawmakers to make smart financial decisions for the state.

Davidson said being an accountant is more useful to the treasurer’s job, and that he has plenty of experience dealing with legislators.

Both candidates oppose establishing a state bank. The largest source of money for a state bank would be government pension funds and both candidates said they would not risk those funds on a state bank.

Both candidates also support a special Legislative session to deal with the economic hits caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee has resisted a special session.