This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.
Maybe the citizens of the 25th District are unusually public-spirited, or maybe Democrats just look like easy prey this year. Five – count ’em, five – candidates have stepped up to challenge the Democratic incumbent, Dawn Morrell, in House Position 2.
Morrell’s Republican seatmate in Position 1, meanwhile, has drawn only a single challenger. State Rep. Bruce Dammeier’s race against Democrat John Thompson will be decided in the November election.
The oddest sub-contest in Position 2 is between Morrell and her ostensibly Democratic challenger, Ron Morehouse of Spanaway.
Morehouse ran two years ago as a Republican, and his very conservative positions would place him toward the rightward edge of the GOP. A Central Pierce fire commissioner, he won election last year to the Bethel School Board. He’s been a disappointment in that position, and his opposition to his district’s vital February school levy left many citizens angry.
Morrell, four-term House veteran, has done well as a lawmaker since she was elected eight years ago. Fellow Democratic lawmakers have recognized her leadership ability and chosen her as caucus chairwoman, making her the Pierce County delegation’s highest-ranking legislator in the House.
She’s shown an independent streak, splitting with more orthodox Democrats to vote against some tax and spending issues.
The Republican sub-contest pits Hans Zeiger, a graduate student and writer, against Steve Vermillion, a highly decorated Army combat veteran. Zeiger is a thoughtful conservative, but he – and all the other challengers – are thoroughly outmatched by Vermillion.
Vermillion, who currently owns and runs a small consulting firm, is as qualified a political newcomer as we’ve seen this year. His service in Vietnam won him a Silver Star and Distinguished Flying Cross. His subsequent military career as an Army officer included major command and staff responsibilities and a final assignment as professor of military science at the University of Washington.
After retiring in 1993, Vermillion worked as a manager in and out of state government, as an author and consultant. He’s far and away the best conservative alternative to Morrell; we endorse them both for the August primary.
Two other candidates, Larry Johnson and Bryan Shaner, are running as independents. This is a partisan position, though, and any lawmaker not aligned with a major party would face dismal prospects in Olympia.
To read earlier endorsement editorials, go to www.thenewstribune.com/endorsements.