A grassroots campaign for Mattis to run for office is brewing in his hometown

news
Former Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis (DoD photo)

A Richland, Washington city councilman thinks native son Jim Mattis would make a terrific governor or even president.


Phil Lemley hopes his neighbors will help push a grassroots campaign to encourage the now-former Secretary of Defense to run for public office.

And he's printed up 10 campaign yard signs to start the conversation.

Lemley said he was "devastated" in December when Mattis resigned as the 26th Secretary of Defense over policy differences with President Donald Trump.

Spurred by his disappointment, Lemley enlisted Richland's Accent Signs to design a simple, flag-themed "Jim Mattis for President" yard sign.

Lemley unsuccessfully ran as a Republican for a seat in the state House last year, but his Mattis signs don't mention a political party. Mattis' ex-boss famously called him "sort of a Democrat" in a 60 Minutes interview last fall.

Passersby wanted signs

One Mattis sign went in Lemley's yard. Another in his neighbor's — former State Rep. Larry Haler.

He passed a third along to the Mattis family and gave more to curious passersby who knocked at his door.

Lemley said he has two or three left. He would be thrilled to order more if it helps build a movement to draft Mattis to run for something.

"If we could get a grassroots effort started, I would do anything to make this happen," he said. "Let's twist his arm."

No word from Mattis

Mattis has been silent on the presidential rumblings emanating from his hometown. Lemley confirmed he did not get permission and hasn't heard anything one way or the other.

It's unclear if Mattis has visited the Tri-Cities since New Years, when he left office, and the Herald failed to reach him this week about Lemley's hopes for him.

But that hasn't stopped Lemley's sign from generating a lively, if brief, Facebook conversation.

Richlanders cheered Lemley's efforts and openly speculated about a possible vice presidential candidate. Special Prosecutor Bob Mueller, U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley were suggested.

Lemley, a former Marine who flies a service flag outside his home, says he's a long time fan of Mattis.

Mattis, 69 was born in Pullman but raised in Richland, where he graduated from Columbia High School (now Richland). He attended Central Washington University, where he launched a highly successful 40-plus year military career.

Lemley became friendly with Mattis after he arranged for him to speak during a Rotary Club program.

He'd reached out to Mattis through the military. He only succeeded in connecting after he had a chance encounter with the general's mother.

Lemley was door belling for one of his own political campaigns when he met her. He mentioned his interest in having Mattis visit the service club.

Two weeks later, Mattis got in touch to accept, hailing Lemley as a fellow Marine.

"All I had to do was talk to his mother," Lemley said.

Mattis is legendary in military circles for his interest in veterans and issues.

"Every Marine there is loves this man and worships the ground he walks on," Lemley said.

Signs of a political nature are broadly protected under the First Amendment.

Lemley said he is careful in his personal campaigns for city council and more recently, state Legislature, to comply with the city code that requires political campaigns to remove yard signs within 10 days after an election.

But the code is silent on how early you can put up your signs.

———

©2019 Tri-City Herald (Kennewick, Wash.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

SEE ALSO: The Pentagon Felt Hollow The Day After Mattis' Resignation

WATCH NEXT: The 5 Best Mattis Quotes Of All Time

U.S. Military Academy Class of 2022 conducted a 12 mile road march as family and former graduates cheered them on, concluding six weeks of Cadet Basic Training Aug. 13, 2018. (U.S. Army photo by Matthew Moeller)

Search efforts are underway to find a West Point cadet, who has gone missing along with his M4 carbine, the U.S. Military Academy announced on Sunday.

"There is no indication the Cadet poses a threat to the public, but he may be a danger to himself," a West Point news release says.

Academy officials do not believe the missing cadet has access to any magazines or ammunition, according to the news release, which did not identify the cadet, who is a member of the Class of 2021.

Read More Show Less
Soldiers from the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division in their Bradley Fighting Vehicle during Marne Focus at Fort Stewart, Ga. during the week of Oct. 14, 2019 (U.S. Army photo)

Three soldiers were killed and another three injured when their Bradley Fighting Vehicle rolled over during a training exercise at Fort Stewart in Georgia on Sunday morning, Army officials announced.

Read More Show Less
U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper addresses reporters during a media briefing at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., October 11, 2019. (Reuters/Erin Scott)

KABUL (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper arrived in Afghanistan on Sunday in a bid to bring talks with the Taliban back on track after President Donald Trump abruptly broke off negotiations last month seeking to end the United States' longest war.

Esper's trip to Kabul comes amid questions about the United States' commitments to allies after a sudden withdrawal of U.S. troops from northeastern Syria and Trump's long-time desire to get out of foreign engagements.

Read More Show Less
Ummmmmm what? (Twitter)

Mark Esper is the third person after James Mattis and Patrick Shanahan to helm the Pentagon since Donald Trump became president, and he's apparently not making much of an impression on the commander-and-chief.

On Sunday, Trump sent a very real tweet on "Secretary Esperanto," which is either a reference to a constructed international language developed more than 130 years ago and only spoken on the PA system in Gattaca or an egregious instance of autocorrect.

Read More Show Less

The Army says it's settled on three defense contractors to battle it out to become the service's M4 carbine and M249 Squad Automatic Weapon replacements, but at least one other company is hoping that a bit of consumer approval could help upset the competition.

Read More Show Less