BELLEVUE, Wash. --A man had a most unusual campaign strategy, he publicly asked voters not to support him.
Instead, reluctant candidate Tony Ventrella won enough votes to put him in second place, guaranteeing his name will appear on the November ballot in a race against an incumbent Republican Congressman.
Ventrella has decided he will indeed run for the 8th District congressional seat, but in a most unorthodox way.
Ventrella won't accept campaign contributions.
"Vote for me. Let's do that, but I don't want your money," he said. "I know that's crazy and people are going to say you can't win. Well we'll see."
Instead, he wants supporters to donate anything they'd give him to a non-profit of their choice. He thinks a lot of voters are weary of how much money candidates accept and spend to get elected.
"I'm going to go forward and suggest anyone who would have contributed to my campaign pick one of the non-profits in one of the five counties in the 8th district and make a nice donation," he said.
He's as surprised as anyone that he won the second highest number of votes, beating out two other candidates.
State election law requires the two top vote-getters in the primary to face-off in the general election.
The former sports broadcaster says he believes he can tap into widespread voter disgust with big money politics, tired of candidates amassing huge war chests of donations from individuals and political action committees.
"I'm sick of it. I think a lot of people are sick of it," Ventrella said in an interview from his backyard in Newcastle. "Yeah, we're testing the waters. This is crazy. Its not normal to do this, but this is how I'm doing it."
He has no plans to form a campaign staff, advertise, or hold typical campaign events like rallies.
Republican opponent and six-term congressman Dave Reichert says he is also weary of big money politics, and questions whether Ventrella is seriously committed to the idea of serving in congress.
"I would say he doesn't want the job because not only is it hard work doing the official work, but it's hard work on the campaign side," Reichert said. "You've got to get in the system to change it."
Ventrella said he endorsed one of his opponents in the primary and would gladly hand over his slot on the general election ballot. However; KOMO reports that is not legal, so he will pursue his unique campaign.
"I'd rather make a statement with this opportunity which is what I'm doing," he said. "If I make the point and I win. I've really made the point. I've made a difference."