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Good Primary Election Night for Small Business Candidates

Date: August 06, 2014

Results bode well for incumbents in November

NFIB/Washington’s SAFE Trust committee endorsed 52 state legislative candidates prior to Tuesday’s primary election. An impressive 47 of them are leading in their races; 51 of the 52 will advance to the November general election. 

In the Spokane-area 4th Legislative District, appointed state Rep. Leonard Christian (R-Spokane Valley) appears to have been bumped out of the general election by Robert McCaslin, Jr., son of the late Sen. Bob McCaslin, and NFIB/Washington Leadership Council member Diana Wilhite.  The Washington SAFE Trust committee had endorsed Christian in the primary due to his 100 percent voting record on NFIB priority issues. This was an interesting race where all three candidates are Republicans.

Four of the small-business-backed candidates running second in their respective races Tuesday night also faced inter-party challenges, which cut into their vote totals.  

Sen. Tim Sheldon (D-Potlatch) faced a labor Democrat and libertarian Republican in the 35th Legislative District senate contest. Sheldon clung to a narrow second-place finish Tuesday night, trailing Democrat Irene Bowling. NFIB/Washington SAFE Trust mailed postcards to nearly 30,000 households in the district urging voters to join us in supporting Sheldon, a long-time Guardian of Small Business in the legislature.  

In southwest Washington’s 18th Legislative District, Rep. Brandon Vick (R-Felida) trails Democrat Michael Briggs; however, the combined Republican vote was just over 60 percent. Vick should have an easier time winning the general election.

Appointed Rep. Jesse Young (R-Gig Harbor) and a fellow Republican held former state Sen. Nathan Schlicher, a Democrat, to 48 percent of the vote in the race for the 26th Legislative District, position 1, House seat. Schlicher lost his senate seat just last November to then Rep. Jan Angel (R-Port Orchard) in the costliest legislative race in state history. Rather than face Angel again, Schlicher is seeking to take her former House seat.

Also in the 26th district, political newcomer Michelle Caldier, a dentist, scored an impressive 48.5 percent versus Rep. Larry Seaquist (D-Gig Harbor) for the position 2 House seat. Caldier is considered one of the House Republican’s top recruits for this cycle.

These two competitive House races, along with Sen. Angel’s campaign to retain the senate seat she won last year, are sure to make the 26th district one of the main battlegrounds heading into the general election.  For her part, Sen. Jan Angel showed a solid 56.6 percent win over Democrat Judy Arbogast for the 26th Legislative District senate seat.

Like Angel, most incumbents led their opponents in Tuesday night’s election returns. There are a few exceptions, however, that will likely result in major spending for a rare chance to defeat a sitting lawmaker.  

Freshman Rep. David Hayes (R-Camano Island) took just 47.8 percent of the vote against three Democrat challengers in the competitive 10th Legislative District.  Look for the Democrats and their union allies to target Hayes in the general election.  

Similarly, Rep. Paul Harris (R-Vancouver) was held to 49.9 percent in a three-way race against a Democrat and Libertarian for his 17th Legislative District House position 2 seat.  Democrats were already planning to spend big to defend Harris’ seatmate, Rep. Monica Stonier (D-Vancouver), who narrowly trails NFIB/Washington Leadership Council member Lynda Wilson, a Republican, 49.2 to 50.8 percent.  Both parties will invest heavily in the 17th hoping to gain a House seat.  

Democrats will be on the defense in at least three other House races.  

Rep. Dawn Morrell (D-Puyallup) leads Republican Melanie Stambaugh, 52 to 48 percent, in another of the state’s most competitive districts, the 25th Legislative District.  Morrell returned to the Legislature in 2012 after having been ousted from her House seat by Hans Zeiger in 2010.  Rep. Zeiger (R-Puyallup) enjoys a sizeable lead, 61.8 to 38.2 percent, in his re-election bid.  

Despite not having raised much for his campaign, former Federal Way mayor and city councilman Jack Dovey, a Republican, is mounting a spirited challenge to Rep. Roger Freeman (D-Federal Way) in the Democrat-leaning 30th Legislative District.  Freeman narrowly leads Dovey, 50.4 to 49.6 percent.  This race may get a boost as both parties have targeted the open senate seat in this district where former Democrat and former state Rep. Mark Miloscia, now a Republican, leads Democrat Shari Song, 57.2 to 42.8 percent. Republicans hope a Miloscia win will offset the loss of Majority Coalition Caucus leader Sen. Rodney Tom, whose 48th Legislative District seat will flip to the Democrats. The 30th district senate race could very well determine control of the state senate, and it looks as though Dovey is benefitting from a strong Republican turnout in the primary.  

And in a surprisingly close race, House majority leader Rep. Pat Sullivan (D-Covington) appears to have taken challenger Barry Knowles for granted in the slightly Republican-tilting 47th Legislative District. Sullivan is ahead by just 633 votes, 52 to 48 percent, despite having outraised Knowles $105,000 to $4,000. As the top lieutenant to Speaker Frank Chopp, Sullivan will have no problem raising plenty of cash, but Republicans and their supporters are likely to throw some money to Knowles just to ensure Sullivan is forced to spend heavily to defend his seat. That has the added benefit of preventing Sullivan from gifting much of the $70,000 he has on-hand to the House Democrat Campaign Committee for use elsewhere in the state.

Washington SAFE Trust, NFIB’s political action committee, will continue to monitor primary election results and look to endorse challengers and other candidates for open seats who prove their support of small business and an ability to mount a successful general election campaign.

For more information about these races or how you can help Washington SAFE Trust support legislative candidates who support small business, please contact NFIB/Washington State Director Patrick Connor at (360) 786-8675.

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