Asay vs. Freeman: Behind the scenes in District 30 | Roegner

The race for position two in the state House matches incumbent Republican Katrina Asay against Democratic Federal Way City Councilman Roger Freeman.

The two candidates have differences on issues and also some similarities, but their style is noticeably different.

Asay is finishing her first term in the Legislature after serving as mayor of Milton for six years. As a member of the minority party, she has sought to work across the aisle with Democrats to support legislation on education, transportation and property crimes. Her Municipal League rating of “Outstanding” was the highest of any of the 30th District legislative candidates. She is friendly, knowledgeable and comfortable with legislative topics in smaller groups, and less so in formal debate settings, as her style is low key and more conversational.

Asay showed some unusual independence for a freshman last session by standing up to some party and city leaders on part of the Sound Transit light rail debate.

Asay supports the Republican platform. She is pro-life, opposed to same-sex marriage, and feels marijuana should be a low emphasis crime. She is opposed to tax increases, but did not sign the Norquist No Tax Pledge. She supports the two-thirds legislative requirement for any tax increase. She believes education is our top priority, although she has questions about grading and is also supportive of charter schools. Asay would like to have half of any new revenue pledged to education. She supports gun rights, but would like to look at tighter laws on incarceration.

Roger Freeman has been on the city council for two years and is an attorney. For his council accomplishments, Freeman cites the reactivation of the MLK celebration, adding crosswalks on 320th Street to improve safety, and opposing a higher speed limit near Wild Waves Theme Park. Freeman was recruited to the race late by House Speaker Frank Chopp after the local Democrats had already endorsed Rick Hoffman for the primary.

Freeman supports full funding for education and would like to hire more teachers. He is opposed to charter schools as it takes money away from public schools.

Freeman supports legalization of marijuana and would like to see any money generated to go toward funding schools. He is opposed to the two-thirds legislative requirement for tax increases, as it hinders the Legislature’s ability to solve the problems facing the state. Freeman’s style and legal training come out in debates where he is comfortable, articulate and usually quick on his feet.

At a recent debate, Freeman said as a candidate for the Legislature he was in favor of gay marriage because it is unconstitutional for the government to regulate marriage. He also said he supports a woman’s right to choose. He acknowledged that those positions were different than his positions earlier in the campaign. He said his earlier comments were a reflection of his personal beliefs, not his policy positions.

Behind the scenes, there appeared to be an uneasy alliance with some Democrats due to Freeman’s late entrance into the race.

Rumors circulated prior to the second Federal Way Mirror debate that Freeman was changing his positions on the two issues because it had placed him at odds with the Democratic party. Opponents were quick to note the “flip flopping.”

The Democrats did endorse him, but at the debate, Freeman was critical of Asay for voting with her party too frequently and said he wouldn’t necessarily do that. That may have reopened questions within the party, as he also said he may vote against the Democratic platform at times and in support of it at others. That may appeal to some independents, but another route that didn’t alienate his base voters might have been more prudent.

The Federal Way Police Officers Guild endorsed Asay due to her support for public safety issues. However, there was also a secondary message — as in position 1, where city council member Linda Kochmar didn’t receive the guild’s endorsement due to unhappiness with collective bargaining issues, and Freeman didn’t either, likely for the same reason.

In the primary, Asay failed to get above 50 percent, and the Democratic vote total suggested that she might be vulnerable. That now seems unlikely. Asay has raised significantly more money than Freeman and has utilized several different forms of advertising. Freeman has not received the help from the House Democratic fund nor has he been able to raise the money he would need to be competitive against an incumbent. With his council duties and full-time job, it doesn’t appear he has had the time to devote to the campaign.

While an upset is still possible, it seems unlikely. Asay should win.


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