M. Semi Bird, Black conservative, set to shake up governor’s race in liberal Washington state

M. Semi Bird is daring to be what he calls a “walking counter-narrative” to a left-wing agenda that dominates politics in Washington state, and he’s eyeing a run for governor.

He is a Black man who grew up in a poor neighborhood in a single-parent household with seven other children and then dropped out of high school.

And yet, Mr. Bird went on to become a U.S. Marine veteran, a decorated Army Special Forces Green Beret, and the first Black man elected to the school board in Richland County, which serves the city of Richland and West Richland in central Washington about 200 miles southeast of Seattle.

“I’ve been called horrific names like racist, xenophobic, homophobic, and told to stop talking about my religion, my military service. That’s when I started to recognize that I am a threat,” Mr. Bird said. “My whole campaign is about the mission, unity, coming together, and accountable behavior, not victim behavior.”

His story underpins his run for governor in 2024, a campaign he told The Washington Times would be based on conservative values and education modeled after the winning platform of Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin and Lt. Gov. Winsome Sears

He recently met with Ms. Sears to discuss his campaign plans and his focus on expanding parental rights in schools.

As a school board member, Mr. Bird helped end the mask mandate for the district and create a parent advisory committee.

His vision, he says, is to make Washington and the nation a gold standard in education for the world, going as far as to call it a national security issue.

“A nation with substandard education for children who are going to grow up to run this nation, run the businesses, run these manufacturing companies, that’s a scary thought,” Mr. Bird said. 

Mr. Bird likely faces an uphill battle in the solidly blue state that has not elected a Republican governor since 1980. 

The state is currently represented by Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee, who could run for a fourth term in 2024.

Washington elections have a top-two primary, otherwise known as a jungle primary, where two candidates who receive the most votes in a primary, regardless of party, move on to the general election.

If elected governor, Mr. Bird said that imposing term limits would top his agenda.

Though he would be the state’s first Black governor, Mr. Bird said he doesn’t want his run on race but hopes to unify people in a way he says former President Barack Obama failed to do.

“I don’t want to be put there because I’m a Black man. I want you to put me there because you believe in what I am doing,” Mr. Bird said. “I believe President Obama had a chance to really unite the country, and there’s a lot of things I could praise him on, but he could’ve done better to unite us when it comes to racial discourse. I will not make that mistake.”

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