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Fundraiser honors veterans and rallies party Democrats

By Dennis Box-The Courier-Herald

The 31st District Democrats threw a fundraising party July 21 at the Buckley Eagles and the money will be used to help disabled veterans.

The event brought in $6,500, which will be given to the American Lake Disabled Veterans Golf Course, according to Rep. Chris Hurst, D-Greenwater, one of the primary organizers.

The theme was both honoring and helping veterans and rallying everyone to elect Democrats, both in the district and in the presidential race.

Highlight speakers included Gov. Chris Gregoire and Speaker of the House Frank Chopp, D-Seattle.

Chopp rallied the troops in the room for Gregoire's campaign against Republican challenger Dino Rossi.

“What will make a difference in this campaign is to tell everyone what a great governor she is,” Chopp said.

Gregoire spent her time at the microphone talking about veteran issues, noting, “We have the fastest growing veteran population of any state.”

Gregoire noted her husband, Mike, is a Vietnam veteran.

“I say to anyone who has served in Vietnam - welcome home,” Gregoire said. “To anyone who has served - welcome home.”

The governor also recounted her accomplishments while urging everyone in the room to swing the district into the Democratic column for local politicians and presidential candidate Barack Obama.

This election is about change,” Gregoire said. “It is about changing Washington, D.C., to look like Washington state. This is our Democratic year. Let's go out and make it happen.”

Hurst told the gathering he and his wife, April, had received a message their son would be returning from combat in Afghanistan.

Andy Hurst has served three combat tours in the Army. He was with the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team in Wanat, Afghanistan, when the soldiers were attacked by small arms fire and rocket propelled grenades from enemy forces. The 173rd lost nine soldiers in the battle.

“I know the veterans coming home have it very difficult,” Hurst said. “If we don't provide for our soldiers when they come back, how will history judge us?”

More than 320 people gathered for the fundraiser, which featured Tony Ventrella as master of ceremonies.

Ron Weigelt, who is the Democratic candidate for the Position 1 seat in state House of Representative, spoke to the crowd, as did Pierce County Councilman Calvin Goings, who is running for Pierce County executive.

John Ladenburg, the current county executive, spent his time stumping for his attorney general campaign.

The Democrats wrapped up the evening with the governor by presenting 90-year-old Bob Curtis with a plaque honoring his community work and military service. Curtis was awarded a silver star for his actions in World War II and another for valor in the Korean War.

Dennis Box can be reached at dbox@courierherald.com.

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