At the Washington Education Association’s weekend convention, Secretary of State candidate Kim Wyman became the first Republican statewide candidate to get the teacher’s union’s endorsement this year.
Though it’s among the biggest benefactors of Washington Democrats, the WEA has nonetheless endorsed Republicans, such as current Secretary of State Sam Reed. This year, by picking Thurston County auditor Wyman to be the state’s top elections officer, the union passed over Democratic candidates Kathleen Drew, Greg Nickels and, least surprisingly given his support this year for charter schools and school-employee benefits consolidation, Jim Kastama.
Two other Republicans likewise won the WEA’s backing, Rep. Bruce Dammeier of Puyallup, who is the favorite to win Kastama’s Senate seat, and Rep. Gary Alexander of Thurston County, who was redistricted out of his old seat and is seeking the one left behind by Rep. Jim McCune in the Republican-leaning 2nd district.
Dammeier was a supporter of toughening the state’s teacher-evaluation standards and helped negotiate an evaluation measure this year that the union disliked.
The union also endorsed many Democratic candidates for the Legislature. In three intra-Democrat contests in the Tacoma area that could be closely fought, the union picked Lauren Walker over fellow Tacoma City Council member Jake Fey, Rep. Jeannie Darneille over lawyer Jack Connelly, and former labor official Ben Lawver over law clerk David Sawyer.
Other Democrats selected include Dawn Morrell of Puyallup for Dammeier’s seat, retired state patrolman Bill Hilton, Rep. Laurie Jinkins of Tacoma, University Place Councilman Eric Choiniere, Rep. Tami Green, farmer Bruce Lachney, and Rep. Steve Kirby.
The WEA had already endorsed Democrats in most of the statewide races, picking Jay Inslee for governor, Bob Ferguson for attorney general, Craig Pridemore in the wide-open Democratic competition for state auditor and incumbents Peter Goldmark, Jim McIntire and Mike Kreidler to stay in their jobs as lands commissioner, treasurer and insurance commissioner.