Today was a day I will probably remember for a long time. It was the day I met Semi Bird. While former Congressman and King County Sheriff, Dave Reichert, was out doing the “polar plunge”, Bird was on the campaign trail, walking the walk, and doing the hard work it takes to win the race for Washington State’s highest office.

In addition to his friendly team, Semi carries with him an energy, grace and personability that draws you in, in a way that I’ve only experienced a few times in my life. Nobody from the establishment political class seems to think he can actually win, but today I accepted one thing as a fact:

Semi Bird has the American Spirit, and he doesn’t seem to care one bit about what his competition, the media, or anyone else thinks of him.

That alone makes me want to vote for him. The fact that he’s a Marine who was awarded the Bronze Star for his service, makes me want to vote for him even more. Semi Bird knows what it means to serve and has a first-hand understanding of what our former service members face when returning from war and what it takes for them to re-integrate with civilian life. If he were to serve as Washington State’s Governor, I wouldn’t have any hesitations about his commitment to the veteran community.

For former Congressman Reichert’s sake, I hope his “polar plunge” gave him the rejuvenation and clarity he needed to hit the remainder of the primary season hard, and to wake up to the fact that he can’t take any GOP primary vote for granted and that the conventional wisdom of his campaign may very well be wrong. Former Congressman Reichert may very well not be the only Republican candidate that can win the Governor’s office in November.

The GOP is in the minority in Seattle, but Semi Bird could attract huge swaths of voters from demographics here that would normally never stop to consider the GOP. Bird totally smashes the idea of a “racist” GOP and can naturally connect with young black Seattle voters in ways that Reichert, a former cop, simply can’t.

It’s my first time caucusing with Washington State Republicans, so I don’t know very much at all, but I know this much is true; with every campaign stop he hits between now and the State Convention in April, Semi Bird is going to win over undecideds and change at least some heretofore stubborn minds in the process. Before today I thought Semi Bird’s candidacy for Governor was a long shot in the dark; but today I met the man, was infected with his positivity, and came to believe that it’s a whole lot more than that.

Mr. George Artem holds a Master of Science, Information Systems from the University of Washington and is an America’s Future Spring 2024 Writing Fellow. George returned to Seattle after his 1L year at New England Law | Boston and completed a service year with the Washington Stated Department of Veterans Affairs, AmeriCorps program. Today, George serves veterans at the Shoreline Veterans Center where he helps run a drug and alcohol recovery program for previously unhoused service members and is a member of the Seattle recovery community.

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