Today, I’m proud to reintroduce columnist The Legislative Junkie. He provided some insight to the 2012 legislative session and now is back with a series of articles examining the state Senate races this year.
The state Senate is currently in the
leadership clutches of the “Majority Coalition Caucus” (i.e. Republicans), since Rodney Tom (“D” – 48) and Tim Sheldon (“D” – 35) defected in 2013. Out of 49 seats, the MCC held a 26-23 majority for the 2013-2014 biennium.
However, the 2014 elections could change this balance. There are 25 Senate seats up for election in 2014, but only 12 are worth your time. (Because who, really, has the time, energy, or inclination to pay attention to whatever sacrificial pachyderm has been offered up in the indigo environs of Tacoma?)
Some of these watchable races are competitive and could change the balance of the WA Senate. Some are watchable only with a bowl of popcorn close at hand. I’d like to take a look at these watchable races, one by one, over the next few weeks.
The 30th Legislative District
Mark Miloscia (R) vs. Shari Song (D) – OPEN SEAT
The 30th LD is in southern King County, including Federal Way and Des Moines. It’s a swing district that is currently served by a mix of Democrats and Republicans.
This seat was opened up by the retirement of Senate Democratic Floor Leader Tracey Eide. As Floor Leader, Eide’s job was to direct the procedural action of the Senate, a job that placed her on the front lines fending off procedural shenanigans whenever Democrats broke ranks to take control of the budget process.
She was fun to watch as she made motions and counter-motions, always with the wearily patient affect of a parent, condescending to the Republicans as one would a temperamental toddler.
In one corner, in the blue trunks, is Shari Song, a real estate broker. In the other corner, having freshly dyed his trunks from blue to red, is Representative Mark Miloscia.
Song makes a formidable candidate – she has a history of community service in the Korean-American community in King County, and has raised more than $50,000, largely from Korean-American professionals and small business owners.
Her major drawback is that she is carpetbagging – she JUST moved from Bellevue (where she unsuccessfully challenged Reagan Dunn for his King County Council seat in 2013) to Federal Way. Carpetbagging charges would tip the scales against her if she were running against a popular, likable incumbent who hadn’t recently switched parties. Luckily for Song, she is running for an open seat against Mark Miloscia.
Miloscia’s politics and personality are…unusual. His deeply-felt Catholicism makes him passionately anti-choice and anti-poverty. He has a 91% lifetime voting record from the Washington State Labor Council, and was pushing for a $15 minimum wage – statewide! – years before the cool kids were doing it. He was also the only anti-choice member of the House Democratic Caucus, and voted against marriage equality in 2012.
His consistency is admirable enough, but he does NOT play well with others. In 2010, when he decided House Speaker Frank Chopp wasn’t providing enough leadership, he ran for Speaker (without any support from colleagues)*.
He ran for state auditor in 2012 and failed to find much support even from among the constituencies who had supported him in the past (i.e. organized labor) because of his opposition to marriage equality.
So now, this erstwhile Democrat, erstwhile Representative, erstwhile candidate for state auditor, is running for state Senate. He’s raised less than Song (about $47,000), and his donor list now looks like that of your average Republican – cable companies, pharmaceutical companies, and the plastics industry.
Any sorta-incumbent such as Miloscia should be able to outraise a relative newcomer such as Song. The fact that he hasn’t raised that much money AND has recently switched parties will make it hard for Miloscia to win. My gut tells me Song will win this race, keeping the seat for the Democrats.
*Fun story – soon after Miloscia challenged Chopp, the House rearranged their committee structure (as is common before a new biennium), and all of a sudden, the Housing Committee which Miloscia had chaired was eliminated. The committee’s portfolio was folded into the Community & Economic Development & Trade Committee, and Miloscia found himself without a committee to chair. Life lesson, folks: Frank Chopp does not mess around.