It’s filing week and time to get serious about legislative elections.
Who wins this fall will be determined by who bothers to vote. In an off-year election, such as this year, the party of the incumbent president tends to lose seats in Congress. That historical trend seems not only likely to hold, but right now, the Democrats have more reasons to fill out their ballot. Their base is stirred up along with many groups who lean their way and together they want change, not status quo.
Donald Trump does not inspire ambivalence and there are few fence sitters. He has so changed the political debate that compromise and cooperation have become almost impossible. Many voting groups of color feel equality has been set back. Add in the high-profile student leadership after the shootings in Parkland, Florida, and now school safety and gun control are major issues.
Women candidates are running at higher levels in reaction to Trump and the #MeToo movement, and suggest a blue wave could be headed from one coast to another. But will it be enough to actually change control of Congress?
Here in Washington, the state Senate and the state House of Representatives are a toss-up for control. With control comes the power to set the agenda.
The top national issues may factor in with state issues such as education and taxes, and help by bringing out more voters in the this year’s legislative races.
And three of the most important are right here in the 30th District.
With a one-vote margin, the most important race in the state may be between incumbent Republican Sen. Mark Miloscia and three possible challengers.
A few years ago, Miloscia switched from Democrat to Republican. Despite the switch, he continues to split his votes between labor and values, which has served him well. Two years ago, he wouldn’t say if he supported the Republican nominee for president, Donald Trump. But after Trump was elected, Miloscia called the resulting protest marches “ugly, un-American, and un-Christian,” which caused a significant backlash from many women along with our old columnist friend Mr. Federal Way.
Miloscia also didn’t attend a student march for school safety here in Federal Way that put a focus on reducing gun availability, but that is consistent with basic Republican positions. However, he countered by getting involved with the effort to place the new city utility tax on the ballot for a public vote. The group got 3,000 signatures and Miloscia got some positive publicity and made several new friends who are now voter contacts. Miloscia did vote to open legislative records to the public and has worked at reducing “dark money” in state elections. He is known as a hard campaigner and will be hard to beat, even though it is considered a priority to Democrats.
Challenging Miloscia are Democrats David Musick, who has raised $2,000, and Tirzah Idahosa, who has raised $445.
But in this year of volatile politics, the candidate with the best profile of defeating Miloscia would be a Democratic female from Federal Way, with an education background, who supports school safety, has run for office before and is familiar to district voters.
Answering that call will be Democrat Claire Wilson, who is president of the Federal Way School Board and has been elected twice.
This race could be for control of the Senate and is being treated as a key race by special interest groups.
Miloscia has already raised $77,703 and has spent $30,510. Wilson has raised $27,192 and has spent $23,847. Both will raise considerably more money, and money from third-party groups hasn’t even started to become visible yet.
In the House, Democratic Speaker Frank Chopp speaks highly of his two prized freshmen – District 30 Democrats Kristine Reeves and Mike Pellicciotti – and their legislative success. Their wins two years ago ensured Democratic control of the House. Like Miloscia, they voted for transparency and to shine a light on legislative emails and records. All three brought home huge dollars to support the Federal Way Chamber of Commerce, Federal Way Public Schools, city government and Highline College. Reeves was a member of the House committee that allocated the money and worked the levers of power to her constituents’ benefit. She also worked on issues important to education, working mothers and transportation.
Reeves has raised $61,381 and has spent $30,081. She is opposed by perennial candidate Mark Greene and Republican Chevy Swanson. Reeves would be hard to beat under any circumstances, but Greene has chosen the mini-reporting option and will be limited in fundraising, while Swanson hasn’t raised any money. Both will have a hard time getting their message out to voters.
Pellicciotti worked with Reeves on local issues and supported government transparency. He voluntarily provided public records from his office to the media and has worked to try and get “dark money” out of politics with HB 2455. He supported educational needs. As of this writing, he does not have an opponent.
Reeves and Pellicciotti are seen as rising stars and key to the Democrats’ future, but right now, the race to watch is Miloscia-Wilson.
Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn and retired public official. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.