This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.
Democrats have their work cut out for them if they hope to win back seats in two Republican-leaning East Pierce County legislative districts.
Even the fact that the D’s have two standout candidates might not be enough. In recent years, the 2nd and 25th districts’ legislative seats have gone almost all Republican, with the only Democrat remaining being the 25th’s Jim Kastama. He’s running for secretary of state instead of for re-election to his Senate seat, so the two districts might turn completely Republican in November.
• In the 2nd District, incumbent Republican state Sen. Randi Becker of Eatonville is seeking a second term. She’s being challenged by another Republican, James E. Vaughn of Orting. In 2008, Vaughn ran as a Democrat against Congressman Dave Reichert.
Republicans hoping to hold on to the seat should vote for Becker, who has her party’s support and proved her mettle four years ago by beating a better-known Democratic incumbent, Marilyn Rasmussen. And Becker, a retired medical practice manager, has been effective, getting legislation passed that makes it easier for parents to get a child into mental health treatment. She also worked to get funding for the Pierce County Skills Center, a vocational training program serving high school students from seven school districts.
Democrats have a strong challenger in Bruce Lachney, an Eatonville cranberry farmer and retired airline pilot. He has served on the Pierce County Planning Commission and the Eatonville School Board and currently is on the Clover Park Technical College board of trustees.
Voters in the 2nd District would be well served by either Becker or Lachney. They are the two who should advance to the Nov. 6 general election.
• In the 25th District, Puyallup Democrat Dawn Morrell lost her House Position 2 seat two years ago to Republican Hans Zeiger by a mere 29 votes. She’s hoping voters will return her to the House, this time in House Position 1. State Rep. Bruce Dammeier is vacating that seat to run for the state Senate.
Morrell has a Democratic opponent, student Eric Hingsberger of South Hill. He did not participate in the editorial board’s interview process.
Morrell is a proven quantity. The critical care nurse was a legislative leader on health care and would focus on that issue if she’s returned to the House. She says she’s seen too many people delay vital medical treatment because they lack health insurance, sometimes until it’s too late to save their lives.
Four Republicans are also in this race, but only two appear to be mounting active campaigns. Fortunately, those two are fine candidates: Michele Smith and Shelly Schlumpf, both of Puyallup.
Smith was senior legislative assistant to former state Rep. Joyce McDonald (now on the Pierce County Council), so she knows how the House works. But Smith’s former boss is co-endorsing her and Schlumpf, the president and CEO of the Puyallup Sumner Chamber of Commerce. It’s also telling that Schlumf has been endorsed by Dammeier and Zeiger.
Schlumpf might have more of a learning curve on legislative procedures than Smith, but she’s smart and energetic. Her background is in helping business, and that would likely be her focus in the House. She’s a good choice for 25th District Republicans.
• Tuesday: Endorsements in 26th and 29th legislative district races.