Mark Mullet: ‘I’m not conceding any Democratic votes to Ferguson’ for governor

Jun 5, 2023, 4:13 PM | Updated: 6:10 pm

Photo: WA State Senator Mark Mullet (R-District 5)....

WA State Senator Mark Mullet (R-District 5). (Photo: Ted S. Warren, AP)

(Photo: Ted S. Warren, AP)

Washington state Sen. Mark Mullet (D-5th District) announced his candidacy for governor last week as the pool of gubernatorial candidates continues to grow following Gov. Jay Inslee’s 10-year run in Olympia.

With this announcement, Mullet — known throughout his party as more moderate than most of his representatives — joins fellow Democrat candidates Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz while Dr. Raul Garcia and Richland School Board member Semi Bird are a few of the candidates running on the Republican ticket.

“Is it fair to say that a key strategy for you to advance is to win over some actual Republicans as you’re going up against Bob Ferguson, Hilary Franz, and maybe whoever else announces?” Jason Rantz asked Mullet on The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH 770 AM.

Sen. Mullet may enter governor’s race because ‘Ferguson is more of the same’

“I’m not conceding any Democratic vote to Bob Ferguson,” Mullet answered. “There’s a lot of Democrats, like myself, who feel our party can do a lot better when it comes to public safety, affordable housing, and taxes. I’m not ready to concede any voters because I think there are a lot of Democrats who are similar to me, where they like some of those core values I support, but are agreeing with the fact that I challenge our party to be better on those three issues.”

That being said, Mullet acknowledged readers of The Stranger — which released a story on Mullet’s announcement paired with the subhead “HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA” — will probably not look his way to replace Inslee in favor of Bob Ferguson, whose campaign team released an ad against Mullet just hours after his candidacy was announced. In the video were Pro-Choice Washington’s Executive Director Kia Guarino, Ironworkers Local 86 Political Director Heather Kurtenbach, and IBEW Local 46 Director of Government Affairs Nicole Grant, all describing Mullet as “completely out of touch.”

“It’s kind of hilarious that they obviously had to film that in advance, I think he was a little nervous about the announcement,” Mullet said in response to the Ferguson-funded ad. “I think the advantage I have is, I actually have a voting record on those core issues that we’re talking about. Women’s reproductive rights? I have a 100% voting record. LGBTQ+ support? I have a 100% voting record.”

One of Mullet’s more controversial stances, and one that differed him from most of his political party, was his disapproval of the long-term care payroll tax. The tax collects 0.58% from wages, no matter the salary, to create a long-term care benefit (worth up to $36,500) for when the resident paying the tax needs it. The average salary n the state is $50,091, meaning the tax is slightly more than $24 a month — or nearly $300 in a year.

Long-term health care tax debated in WA Legislature

The tax kicks in next month.

“I opposed the long-term care payroll tax. I was very vocal of my opposition over the tax and I remain opposed to it,” Mullet told Rantz. “Yes, that’s created a lot of political misery for me, but I can live with that. I think at the end of the day, I got out of my last tough race. I won my tough race previously to that. I’ve always had tough Senate races, and I think the things I stand up and fight for are actually the things most Washington residents want to see me fighting for.”

In 2020, Mullet won by 0.1% of the vote (58 votes out of a total of 85,331) over Ingrid Anderson for the State Senate seat in Washington’s fifth district after originally finishing second in votes behind her in the nonpartisan primary. He won by just 0.7% in his previous race in 2016 — winning with a margin of 516 votes over Chad Magendanz.

In addition to his 11-year political career, Mullet also works as a small business owner, owning and operating Zeek’s Pizza and a couple of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream franchises in the Issaquah and Sammamish area.

“Republican voters care about public safety, taxes, and being smarter about the level of business regulations,” Mullet said in response to coaxing Republicans to vote for him despite his political affiliation. “The Republicans that have voted for me in my three previous Senate races, it’s because I’ve always been very vocal on those issues, and I think it’d be the same in a statewide race.

“You’re right, they probably wish I was different on some of these other social issues,” Mullet continued. “But I’ve never pretended otherwise. I’ve been very upfront with Republican voters my entire time in office. They know I support that stuff. But I also have been extremely consistent in my opposition to unnecessary tax increases. And that’s been really important to them. I think at the end of the day, they’re like, ‘Well, it’s nice to at least have a Democrat there who does support some of those values.’ I really do care about that.”

WA AG settles neglect, document withholding case for $3.1M

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson is the current favorite to replace Inslee as the state’s governor, according to a poll by the Northwest Progressive Institute in March, but has been marred in controversy following the order from the King County Superior Court and the state Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) to pay a fine for failing to release more than 11,000 pages of records for a lawsuit involving the neglect of Emily Tobin, a developmentally disabled woman at an assisted living facility in Kent.

The Washington state Attorney General’s Office had to pay more than $3 million in the settlement.

“I didn’t have to run an attack ad for that one,” Mullet said. “I had nothing to do with that, that happened on its own. I think it’s very clear that Bob Ferguson has been running for governor for probably the last 10 years. I’ve been running for governor for less than 10 days now. There’s a real contrast there, but I’m in this race. I’m giving voters a chance for change. I mean, I’d be the first small business owner in the last 30 years. Every governor has been a lawyer.”

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Mark Mullet: ‘I’m not conceding any Democratic votes to Ferguson’ for governor