As New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie pointed out himself, Washington is a long way from his home state, yet the nationally known Republican was a draw that brought many locals to a "unity rally" for the Washington State Republicans Thursday afternoon.
“I have to tell you something, you’re about as far away from New Jersey as any place could be, but I can feel the energy from Washington state Republicans, independents and disaffected Democrats," Christie said.
The rally was held two days after the 2012 primary election and 89 days before the general election, when state Republicans hope to elect state attorney general Rob McKenna as the first Republican governor in nearly 20 years. (John Spellman, the state's last Republican governor, was voted out of office in 1984.)
McKenna was the headliner, but other Republican candidates including Lt. Governor candidate Bill Finkbeiner, congressional hopeful John Koster and Senate hopeful Michael Baumgartner also addressed the crowd of about 200 people.
"We've already got ingredient number one for success," McKenna said. "We've got outstanding candidates."
McKenna also outlined some differences between his platform and Inslee's platform.
"They need this not to be one of the most expensive states in America in which to employ people and grow their businesses," he said.
Though , supporters said they were still excited for the upcoming election.
"This is where the game starts," said Mark Ludwig of Kirkland, saying that it didn't bother him that McKenna came just under three percentage points behind Inslee.
"McKenna is very well positioned and I think he can get elected," Ludwig said, saying that he was also excited about the group of Republican candidates who made it through Tuesday's primary.
"They have the right policies for the state," he siad.
Mike Nelson, a volunteer for State Representative candidate Hank Myers' campaign, said that all the primary showing reveals is that the governor's race is close, and he thought that McKenna could make the case to voters if there were more opportunities to compare the two candidates directly.
"There's been a lot of TV ads going back and forth, but there's not really any debates," Nelson said. "But in a debate I think that McKenna would be able to outshine Inslee."
Ludwig and Nelson, like many in the audience, also came to see Christie, who is considered a star in the national Republican party and who some want to see as the vice presidential candidate to presidential hopeful Mitt Romney.
"I'd love to see him selected as VP," said Ludwig.
"I like how outspoken he is," Nelson said. "I'm hoping he yells at someone."
Nelson didn't get that on Thursday afternoon. Christie emphasized that McKenna could be a governor patterned after his own example -- a Republican who works with a Democratic legislature, and described his tenure in New Jersey as one where the two major parties have had to reach compromises.
“You know that Washington state needs change and I’m here to deliver one simple message. If you want real strong leadership and the ability to make change happen across the aisle, then hire a prosecutor to be your governor,” he said.
He criticized Inslee as someone who is part of the "broken system" in Washington, D.C., and as someone who won't be able to compromise with Republicans in the state.
"I've been very nice and friendly. I haven't said anything bad. I haven't gotten angry. I haven't gone Jersey on anybody tonight," Christie said.
"If I don't see this thing going well, and I mean really well, I'm going to hold the people of this room responsible first. Don't make me come back here," he joked.
Were you there? Please share your observations of the rally and your photos here on Patch. If you're on the other side of the political spectrum, do you feel ready for November?