James Windle's Wood

A candidate in the 8th District is using a big-ass log to his advantage.

A seconds-long snippet of James Windle's introductory campaign video has changed the dynamic of the race for what's currently Dave Reichert's 8th Congressional District seat. Heading into the August primary, it's put the focus on a familiar issue for our state: timber. But instead of the logging industry, people are talking about a specific piece of timber—the 5-foot, 37-pound log Windle totes on his back during workouts.

Windle is an Independent who returned to his home state of Washington to make a run for Congress after years spent in various impressive capacities in Washington, D.C.—most recently as an associate dean and instructor at the Department of Defense's National Defense University, and, in what Windle calls an "intense eight or nine years," working for the White House Office of Management and Budget and the House Appropriations Committee.

A longtime outdoorsy type (fittingly, given his Sammamish roots), somewhere along the way Windle picked up the—shall we say, unusual habit of exercising by running with a large log on his back. When four seconds of that unorthodox workout made its way into a Windle campaign video, people, and the media, took note.

"It wasn't a true campaign gimmick, because I have to admit I was doing this before I ran for office. And I did what I could to kind of keep it in the backdrop," says Windle of his log-based workouts, noting he suspected the topic might become a distraction.

And while Windle has other things he'd probably rather talk about—like his experience, or how, as an Independent, he believes he's a good fit for the 8th—if it's his log that opens the door to conversations about his candidacy and credentials, he's OK with that. "If it gets people to ask more about me, then, when you're an Indie, that's kind of what we roll with," says Windle.

More than simply rolling with it, Windle's campaign is embracing it. In reaction to the recent interest in his unique workout routine, Windle has scheduled a final campaign push in the form of log-carrying runs through various communities in the 8th District during the week leading up to the August 7 primary.

Windle's not above recognizing the humor in the situation. "I'm very, very serious, and I think my resume supports that I'm a very serious candidate—but at the same time, politics is hilarious," he says.

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