Opinion

Game-changers in Federal Way mayoral race | Bob Roegner

And now there are four.

This past week, Republican State Rep. Skip Priest confirmed he will join the field as a candidate for mayor of Federal Way.

Priest will be giving up what was most likely a very safe seat in the state Legislature for a roll of the dice on returning to his roots in city government.

There had been rumors of a possible Priest candidacy since the voters transformed city politics by moving the position to a strong mayor format.

Priest had been cautious with his comments, and many in the community had felt he was leaning toward staying in the Legislature.

However, over the past three months, some had noticed a slight change in his approach, which led to renewed speculation.

Priest will join a field that already includes city council member Jim Ferrell, council member Mike Park and current Mayor Linda Kochmar. Priest served on the Federal Way City Council and as mayor prior to being elected to the Legislature.

His entrance significantly changes the dynamics of the race and potentially makes Priest the front-runner if his fundraising gets off to a good start.

Some felt that Priest's longtime friendship with Park might keep him out of the competition, but that apparently isn’t the case.

Priest, like Ferrell and Kochmar, has been active in Republican politics for many years, which will likely cause some vote splitting in the party. That makes the Democratic vote along with many other groups important targets for the candidates.

In other news, Jim Ferrell’s candidacy officially began with a kickoff breakfast that Ferrell said about 130 people attended, including city councilman Roger Freeman, school board president and Republican State Senate candidate Tony Moore, and King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg. Ferrell said he raised about $10,000. But Ferrell’s campaign also made the first adjustment in its strategy. Steve McNey had joined Ferrell as campaign manager for Yes on Proposition 1 (strong mayor), and had continued on as Ferrell’s mayoral campaign manager. However, with Moore’s entrance into the Senate race to take on Democratic incumbent Tracey Eide, McNey will move over to Moore’s campaign.

It appears that after Park entered the race and raised between $60,000 and $70,000 in about a week, the Ferrell camp took a look at its overhead and decided to adjust.

Moore’s race will get party help to pay McNey’s salary, and he will likely still advise Ferrell. Recently, Ferrell has been talking to another possible campaign manager.

Speaking of Park, not only did he raise an impressive amount of money very quickly, but former candidate for governor and possible U.S. Senate candidate Dino Rossi, along with new Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland, attended his kickoff.

Kochmar’s kickoff is coming up soon, so we’ll watch her fundraising efforts too.

And lastly for this week, who will run for Priest’s now vacant House seat? We know city councilman Jack Dovey along with school board member Ed Barney are in. Could Tony Moore decide to move to that race? Could Ferrell, Park or Kochmar switch races — and who will the Democrats recruit to run? The fun is just starting!

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