Posted by: sweeneyblog | July 14, 2014

Battle for the State Senate: The 31st District

Guest Column: Legislative Junkie

Guest Column: Legislative Junkie

Continuing our series examining the closely fought battle for the Washington State Senate, here is a another guest post from The Legislative Junkie.

The Legislative Junkie has volunteered to give us some inside scoop on this pivotal race and while he shares my pithy writing style, he is one of the four regular guest contributors to this blog. You can read more guest posts by using the menu on the right. 


The 31st Legislative District


Pam Roach (R) vs. Cathy Dahlquist (R) vs. Lynda Messner (“D”)


The 31st LD comprises exurban and rural Pierce and King Counties, nestled in the foothills of Mount Rainier. The district includes Enumclaw, Buckley, and Bonney Lake. It’s a conservative district – the only Democrat currently representing the 31st in Olympia is Representative Christopher Hurst, a conservative “Roadkill” Democrat.


The voters of the 31st seem to like their Senators like I like my candy bars – the nuttier the better. Senator Pam Roach, the incumbent in the race, is made of crazy. If you haven’t been following the continuing Pam Roach saga, then, well, I envy the journey of discovery ahead of you*. Roach has served in the state Senate since 1991, getting comfortably reelected because her politics (pro-gun, pro-law enforcement, anti-tax) match those of her district.

Sen. Pam Roach

Sen. Pam Roach

Additionally, Roach has regularly received the support of the Washington State Labor Council (she supports front-line state workers over middle management, and has consistently fought to fund the Rainier School for developmentally disabled adults).

Despite her political popularity, Roach is so difficult to work with that Representative Cathy Dahlquist (a decidedly un-crazy, likable, apparently reasonable Republican) is giving up her safe seat in the House to challenge Roach for the Senate. Dahlquist announced her candidacy by throwing some unambiguous shade at Roach: “I will be the voice for the people of my district that has been missing in the Senate for too long.”

As if the contest between Dahlquist and Roach weren’t interesting enough, there is a third candidate in the race, Lynda Messner, who claims to be a Democrat. Messner is a tax preparer from Bonney Lake who doesn’t have a campaign website, hasn’t raised any money, and waited until the last day of filing week to file. Messner seems to have posted on conservative websites (as Lynda Dabson) comments skeptical of President Barack Obama’s citizenship (“We need to focus on the big fix and have Obama removed as ineligible to hold office because he is not a citizen”), among other, uh, heterodox views.

Rep. Cathy Dahlquist

Rep. Cathy Dahlquist

These comments have inspired Representative Hurst to call shenanigans, accusing Roach of recruiting Messner to run and squeeze out viable Democratic candidates (another Democratic candidate, Lane Walthers, withdrew from the race after Messner filed). Hurst, who has donated heavily to Dahlquist, admits he has no evidence, but Roach has been accused of similar hijinks in the past.


Predicting which two candidates make it past the August 5 primary depends on how highly primary voters value the “D” next to Messner’s name. Assuming Messner doesn’t mount a real campaign, her stated preference for the Democratic party will certainly be enough to win her some votes from low-information and/or die-hard Democratic voters.

There won’t be a lot of those in such a quiet election year, especially in a district as conservative as the 31st (for example – in the 2010 primary, incumbent U.S. Senator Patty Murray took less than 40% of the vote in the 31st, while Republicans Dino Rossi and Clint Didier combined for about 50% of the total). Both Roach and Dahlquist have raised more than $100,000, both are popular in the district, and both have cross-over appeal to any Democrats who aren’t convinced by Messner (Roach because of her union support, Dahlquist because she isn’t Pam Roach).

Regardless of the outcome of the primary, this seat will remain safely in Republican hands after the general election in November. This is one of those races best watched with a tub of popcorn close at hand.

*Kicked out of her own caucus for abusing staff. Allowed back in exchange for her vote on a budget. And don’t even think about moving her flowers (link plays sound, be careful). Note from Riley – I covered some of her unusual behavior here.



  1. Good read. The “background” paragraph was very funny


    *Rud* Rud Browne +1-360-820-9494

    On Jul 14, 2014, at 10:14 AM, The Political Junkie wrote: sweeneyblog posted: ” Continuing our series examining the closely fought battle for the Washington State Senate, here is a another guest post from The Legislative Junkie. The Legislative Junkie has volunteered to give us some inside scoop on this pivotal race and while he “

  2. I see a trend here, which includes Whatcom County and the national stage. As Anne-Marie Cox writes in the Guardian today: “The GOP self-destruction is complete: millennials officially hate conservatives”

    It reminds me of the damage Barry Goldwater did to the Republican Party in 1964. The real question for me is if the local and national Democrats have enough sense to drive home the nails in the Republican coffins.

    • Nelson “the Rhino” Rockfeller the damage, not Barry. And the current Republican leadership in DC are cut from the same cloth (A. K. A. Rhinos), they are nothing but “stealth Democrats”. If they had run a truly Conservative candidate in 2012, Obama would be back running ACORN (or something like it) with Bill Ayres. More than 20 million Conservative voters (who had a conscience)stayed at home because they couldn’t vote for a candidate that didn’t represent their value. I stayed at home in 2008 because of the top of the ticket Republican.

      • a real conservative would never make it through the primary process, I keep hoping for a conservative with the courage to stand up against his/her own party……I’ve seen very few.


        BEN CARSON.

      • Let me rephrased what I mean by *real* conservative, what I want is someone who acknowledges the role of government while seeking to reduce its scope through empowerment of the states, I am looking for a conservative who is interested in increasing liberty through allowing people to make their own choices(and mistakes) by abandoning the drug war, and not trying to force religious morality down on gay couples, I want a conservative whose means to solving high prices it to break up Oligopolies and create competition

        I believe this view is conservative……but perhaps I am young and delusional that way.
        What I am not interested is another militaristic candidate who believes that tax breaks can fix every problem.

      • You are describing a Libertarian not a conservative.

      • See the problem is that I have yet to meet a Libertarian that didn’t come with a slew of believes about dismantling government, or some deep held insecurities/fears about authority.

      • What is wrong about dismantling some of our “unconstitutional” government?
        Maybe could actually balance the bloated government and start paying off the $17 trillion debt we have run up for our children and grandchildren.

        Libertarians don’t fear authority, they detest it.

  3. I would happily swap back in Barry Goldwater for some of today’s Republicans.

    • You probably weren’t born in 1964.

  4. “I like my candy bars – the nuttier the better”-how illuminating!

  5. Devlin and Wayne, you’ve found your candidate. Give me a call sometime if you’d like to talk about the issues. Anybody, in fact, give me a call if you’d like to know more about how Libertarian is the right choice no matter what side of the aisle you sit on or if you don’t sit in aisles :). I DO want to change some major things in government (mostly regarding natural resource management, state affirmation of the second amendment, and taxation), but I’m NOT an anarchist or extremist. It’s the two parties in government that are extreme by consistently polarizing on the issues.

    Nicholas Kunkel
    (360) 389-7603

    • I am a Reaganite Libertarian and a longtime friend of Larry Nicholas Johnny Weaver.

      You are currently my second choice but unfortunately another longtime friend of mine is in the race.

      That’s funny-Larry Nicholas and Nicholas Kunkel.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: