Monday, September 16, 2002

Spokane

He's far from your typical Republican
Prophet Atlantis backs state income tax, decriminalization of drug use

Richard Roesler
Staff writer

OLYMPIA -- Prophet Atlantis, a minister well-known in the state capital for his late-night community-access cable TV show, is running for a seat in the state House of Representatives.

Atlantis wants to require higher wages for workers, nationalize drug companies, decriminalize drug use and do away with all corporate tax breaks. He's for gay marriage, school uniforms and a state income tax.

And he's running as a Republican, a fact that does not sit well with the state Republican P
arty.

"I saw his name when he filed and I just shook my head," said state GOP Chairman Chris Vance. "We would never choose Prophet Atlantis to be our standard-bearer. But we have no control over it."

Washington, in fact, is unique in that anyone can declare themselves a member of any party and run as such, regardless of what party officials think. The state's major parties have long sought more control over Washington's wide-open primary election system, in order to get more control over who runs under their banner. So far, they've been unsuccessful in court, and state lawmakers, knowing that Washington's 70-year-old system is popular with the state's independent-minded voters, have been reluctant to change things.

"It's OK to be Republican," Atlantis said recently. "We have what's called freedom of choice."

He has made good use of his cable-TV time this campaign season. The show is normally devoted to topics like founding one's own church or critiques of the mental health-care system. Recent shows have touted Atlantis' run for office. Important points are underscored by falsetto-voiced sock puppets on the hands of Atlantis and friend Dan Bennett.

His other campaign issues include reviving America's long-ailing passenger-rail service, removing some restrictions on small business, and requiring public-school students to wear uniforms.

"They've got 12-year-old to 14-year-old girls looking like hookers," he said.

It seems highly unlikely, however, that when the Legislature convenes again in January, the freshmen lawmakers will include one Rep. Atlantis. His opponent is five-term veteran Rep. Sandra Romero. Staunchly supported by labor unions, Romero won her last election by a margin of more than 2-1.


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