Ellen Craswell doesn't regret any of it. Not the two bouts with cancer. Not the 1996 gubernatorial campaign lost in a landslide to Gov. Gary Locke, a campaign...
Ellen Craswell doesn’t regret any of it. Not the two bouts with cancer. Not the 1996 gubernatorial campaign lost in a landslide to Gov. Gary Locke, a campaign that for some Republicans still defines the standard for Pyrrhic victories. A Republican legislator for 16 years before running for governor, Craswell told the public on the campaign trail early and often about God’s plan for government, as she saw it. Voters overwhelmingly said: Thanks for actually telling us what you think. How refreshing.
But no thanks.
At 72, Craswell still radiates the gracious serenity that charmed voters who wrote to say thank you for her campaign, even though they wouldn’t vote for her in a million years.
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Now retired from politics, Craswell and her husband, Bruce — a former candidate for Congress — are enjoying 14 grandkids and their Poulsbo home, reached through a sign over the driveway that commands “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God” on the way in, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” on the way out.
Q: Would you change anything about your campaign, in retrospect?
A: I would do it exactly the same way if I had it to do over. I have no regrets. We were able to do more than we ever thought we would be able to, and if that’s the way it comes out, that’s the way it comes out. People make their decision, and that is the way it ought to be.
I’ve always felt like I wouldn’t want to run on any false pretenses and then represent people that disagree. You can’t do it, and it’s dishonest besides.
Q: Is it hard being out of the limelight?
A: We are retired from politics. We enjoyed it while we were in it, but now it’s time for another generation to carry the torch. It’s another season in our lives.
Q: Some say your race shows a candidate can’t win with a campaign centered on moral issues. Do you agree?
A: People in my campaign were fired up about moral issues, and there were thousands of them. But they will not be fired up to work without commitment to those issues. Most of them have just gone back to their normal lives.
Q: In 1996 you were diagnosed with cancer for the second time. How did you get through that?
A: It sounds crazy but it was a good transition from two years of being incredibly busy with the campaign. We often thought, what would we have done if the campaign had ended with nothing going on? It was an opportunity, also, to encourage others I would meet in the hospital, and tell them, “I’ve been through this before, have faith. I’ll pray for you.”