Why Dems, GOP poured millions into hotly contested 26th District Senate race

Nov 5, 2018, 11:37 AM | Updated: 11:57 am
ballot, election, Kim Wyman...
A ballot drop box in Washington state. (AP file photo)
(AP file photo)

Washington Senate seat for the 26th District is open because of the surprise retirement of Republican Senator Jan Angel — and it’s a major target for state Democrats.

Washington’s 26th Legislative District includes Gig Harbor, Port Orchard, and Bremerton. The Democrats have Emily Randall running for the seat, a first-time candidate with a background in charitable fundraising work and advocating for LBGTQ rights. She would become the first open lesbian to serve in the state Senate should she win.

Frequent Republican candidate Marty McClendon is competing for the seat. McClendon is a longtime Gig Harbor resident who has run unsuccessfully for Lieutenant Governor, Congress, and the state Senate since 2010.

Both parties really want this Senate seat. It’s among the most expensive state races, with nearly $3 million overall pouring into it since before the primary, roughly $2 million of which is independent money from groups or PACs tied to Democrats or Republicans trying to keep the other party’s candidate from winning. This includes nearly $900,000 from a Republican group trying to keep Randall from taking the seat.

Democrats are hoping to flip the entire district blue by taking this Senate seat and the two Republican-held House seats. All three races are close.

Health care

Quality health care for all is a top priority for Randall. She says that her plan is a “multi-state solution that would allow us to join forces with our health care focused ally states to the south — Oregon, California maybe even Hawaii to broaden the pool for a public option and dramatically lower the cost per person.”

Health care is also a top priority for McClendon who also likes the multi-state option, as well as other creative possibilities.

“I would like to have people be able to buy what they want,” he said. “I would like to have high risk pools for pre-existing conditions that they can buy into and that can be subsidized by the state through Medicaid so that it drives that price down but it leaves the other pools at a more affordable level for the people who want to pick and choose, ala carte – I want to have this type of coverage, I want to pay this much.”


On education, Randall wants to make sure all kids get an equal opportunity and says that means more investment in schools, and changes to the school construction bond process to get new classrooms built and end overcrowding.

She wants to see school construction bonds passed with a simple majority, rather the current 60 percent needed.

“I think that’s an important step to making sure every kid has an equal educational opportunity and that we’re not letting 40 percent of our communities veto an investment in their futures,” Randall said.

But McClendon says that’s a mistake and suggest an alternative.

“Re-tie the dedicated source of funds from the state to actually build schools so it’s not putting the burden on local citizens it’s putting the burden where it’s supposed to be – at the state, which is what the Supreme Court actually said it was supposed to be. So it’s about being fiscally responsible with taxpayer money without putting new hurdles or new burdens on local citizens and local tax-payers, and not lowering the threshold so it makes it easier to raise taxes,” McClendon said.


On taxes, Randall backs a plan being pushed by the state school superintendent.

Washington has the most regressive tax system in the country and we need to make sure that hard working folks in our community and communities like ours are not put out of their homes by ever-rising property taxes. So I do think that a capital gains tax is a good way to work on righting that upside-down tax code, to making sure that the wealthiest one percent in our community, in our city, in our state are paying their fair share,” Randall said.

McClendon says that’s the kind of dangerous idea from the left he’s in the race to fight against.

“I don’t support a capital gains tax, I don’t support a carbon tax, I don’t support a grocery tax, I, support fiscal responsibility with the taxes people already pay. Your government should be good stewards of the money we’re paying. When the economy we have right now is booming, we have surpluses – we should not be pushing new taxes,” McClendon said.

Gun rights, transportation

Randall supports gun rights, but says she also believes in sensible laws such as those in I-1639.

“We need to do something to slow down this gun violence epidemic. You know when kindergartners are going to school to do active shooter drills and they come home terrified that’s a problem,” Randall said.

McClendon opposes I-1639 because he says it penalizes law abiding gun owners.

Randall wants more investment in buses, ferries and other public transit to get people out of their cars – and backs a carbon fee to pay for it.

McClendon says transportation is a huge priority and he’ll push to make sure projects to ease congestion in his district are completed.
He is against a carbon fee, which he says is an example of why Republicans need to at least hold their seats — to keep Democratic agendas in check.

On the flip side, Democrats say they’ll be able to get more progressive polices through if they can grow their majorities in the House and Senate.

RELATED: House seat in Snohomish County’s 44th big target for Washington Dems
RELATED: King County’s 5th Legislative District in Dems crosshairs

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Why Dems, GOP poured millions into hotly contested 26th District Senate race