Federal Way voters have a front row seat to biggest legislative race

Senate seat currently held by Mark Miloscia is a must-win election for both political parties.

You know it will be a wild election year when more than $100,000 has been spent on third party hit pieces by July.

The primary is Aug. 7, and the ballots have been mailed.

With the Democrats in control of the state Senate by one vote and the House by two votes, all the legislative elections are big this year.

And Federal Way voters have a front row seat to what may be the biggest race of all. The Senate seat currently held by Republican Mark Miloscia is a must-win election for both political parties. Democrats have targeted this race as they believe the voter demographics have shifted enough to make Miloscia vulnerable.

The Trump era has made politics unique with gender and race politics on the nation’s front pages, and education along with school safety as key state issues. With that in mind, Democrats recruited Federal Way School Board President Claire Wilson to run against Miloscia.

Also running for the Democrats is Tirzah Idahosa, which will force a primary. Both sides will benefit from Idahosa’s entry as the primary provides a test run that will alert each party to any weaknesses in their campaign and any unexpected strengths demonstrated by the opposition.

Though unlikely aware of it, Trump will be an important factor in voter turnout. Typically in an off-election year, such as this, Republicans are more likely to vote while Democrats show up more frequently in a presidential election year.

Democrats are hoping that anti-Trump feelings will increase their turnout. Republicans are hoping their voters will be motivated to turn out at the prospect of regaining control of the state Senate.

I was at a Republican fundraiser recently and Trump’s name never came up by any speaker. Privately, Republicans are being careful with Trump, saying they don’t approve of some of the things he says and does, but they favor his policies. They hope that will also help turnout.

With the Senate up for grabs, Republicans are not taking any chances.

Miloscia is well known in the district, having previously served several terms in the state House of Representatives and run statewide for State Auditor. He was elected to the Senate four years ago after longtime Sen. Tracey Eide stepped down. Miloscia has been fundraising early and has $148,531. He has raised $67,466 from individual; $34,100 from political action committees; and $5,600 from the party.

Miloscia is hard to categorize. He is a former Democrat who is still considered a solid vote for labor, and his fundraising shows donations from many unions. But he also supports Republican views on values. He worked to try and put the city utility tax on the ballot. Despite that position, Federal Way City Councilmembers Dini Duclos and Martin Moore have contributed to his campaign, as have Lakehaven Commissioners Ron Nowicki and Len Englund. He has worked as a substitute teacher.

Wilson has devoted her career to education and has been on the school board for several years. Wilson is knowledgeable about education, supports women’s issues and labor, and marched with local students to protest gun violence. She has raised $109,710 with the majority; $61,411 from individual contributors; and $40,000 from the Democratic caucus. Local contributors include fellow school board members Mildred Ollee, Geoffrey McAnalloy and Carol Gregory, along with an endorsement from Mayor Jim Ferrell.

Idahosa is a first-time legislative candidate and has only raised $1,645. She had a booth at the Fourth of July festivities at Celebration Park to meet voters. She is supported by former legislators Jesse Wineberry and Dawn Mason along with Debrena Jackson-Gandy.

Public disclosure records show two political action committees have already spent $114,145 opposing Wilson with television and mailings. Third party activities, whether for or against a particular candidate, are required to be independent of the candidate. That is a lot of money to show in a primary and suggests Wilson’s opponents are hoping Wilson and Idahosa will split the vote, and when combined with attacks on Wilson, will make the primary numbers for Miloscia look good to potential donors.

If Wilson keeps Miloscia under 50 percent and her combined vote with Idahosa is over 40 percent, then this will be a close race. The primary will set the tone.

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact: bjroegner@comcast.net.

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