The marquee 2013 legislative race is in the district between Bremerton and the Tacoma Narrows, and that’s where the political parties will spend their energy. But voters are filling at least two other Senate vacancies this fall. Neither is likely to affect the balance in the Senate because both are in conservative Eastern Washington districts that could feature face-offs between fellow Republicans.
Legislators in all three races can start raising money today with the end of the regular legislative session and a two-week hiatus in a fundraising freeze.
Sharon Brown of Kennewick was appointed to the 8th district, Tri-Cities-area Senate seat, beating out the two House members. She could end up facing one of them to retain the seat. Richland Rep. Larry Haler sent an e-mail to supporters saying he’s “seriously considering” a run.
Haler isn’t just floating the idea– he already has commissioned a poll and is slamming his opponent. Since he released them, you can guess that the poll results are favorable, showing him handily defeating Brown. The same e-mail includes a statement from his campaign consultant labeling Brown as a Democrat, quite a put-down in that district.
Brown has defended her Republican cred, and one conservative position she took in the legislative session has gained a lot of attention — filing a bill that would carve out an exception in anti-discrimination laws that would have the effect of letting people deny service to gays based on “religious beliefs, philosophical beliefs, or matters of conscience.” She said she’s defending religious freedom.
Haler, for his part, introduced a state constitutional amendment that would have reinstated the two-thirds supermajority requirement to raise taxes.
The other district is the 7th in northeastern Washington, where Colville farmer John Smith was appointed to fill a vacancy. At least one other candidate, Ferry County Commissioner Brian Dansel, is raising money to run. According to this report from January on Smith’s appointment, Dansel abstained from voting on the vacancy.