The only truly competitive congressional race in the state is in the newly redrawn 1st Congressional District, where recent polling suggests a tossup between Republican John Koster and Democrat Suzan DelBene. It would kinda suck for Western Washington to send an anti-choice/anti-Social Security teabagger like Koster to Congress, but on the bright side, should he win, at least he'd no longer be able to shill for local developers/contributors from his perch on the Snohomish County Council.
Koster has a long history of anti-Growth Management Act property rights activism, but don't mistake him for a mere ideologue. No, the folks Koster shills hardest for are also some of his biggest campaign contributors.
Since 2001, members of the Lane family, which owns several car dealerships in Snohomish County, have given Koster at least $19,950 toward his various political campaigns. This is also a period during which Koster has repeatedly gone to bat on behalf the Lane family's efforts to build a car dealership on 110 acres of rural land along I-5, north of Marysville.
The Central Puget Sound Growth Management Hearings Board had ruled that the "Island Crossing" property should be protected as farmland to avoid flooding problems, but the Lanes kept pushing to rezone the land as urban, and Koster was with them every step of the way. In 2003 Koster voted to make the land urban, and then voted again to override County Executive Bob Drewel's veto. Governor Gary Locke appealed the county's decision to the Growth Management board, prompting Koster to lobby the state legislature to change the law so as to bar the governor from appealing local land-use decisions.
In February 2004, Koster opposed a county flood prevention plan that would have included a study of the Island Crossing property, and in May of 2004 he voted once again to designate the land as urban. The Growth Management Board ruled that the county's decision was out of compliance with state law, and the council only backed down after Governor Locke threatened to impose $9 million in sanctions.
Ultimately, the Arlington City Council voted to annex the land and place it inside the city's urban growth area, thus giving the Lanes the victory they wanted. The Lanes have since given Koster $5,000 toward his congressional runs. It pays to be loyal.
And Koster has also been a loyal friend to developer David Barnett, who spent years attempting to get approval to build a 6,000 home mini-city on 3,000 acres of forest land in rural East Snohomish County. Koster voted to allow these rural mini-cities in 2003, and repeatedly voted to allow Barnett to push his project forward in 2008 and 2009, despite opposition from local communities. And when the council finally voted to ban such developments, Koster personally lobbied County Executive Aaron Reardon to repeal it.
Barnett never got to build his little city, but he came out alright in the end. In 2011 Koster voted to approve a council motion buying Barnett's holdings for a future public park, paid for out of $1.4 million in county Conservation Future Funds, and $6.6 million from the state. Sweet.
That's loyalty! And I'm sure the $5,500 Barnett contributed to Koster's campaigns had absolutely no influence on his support.
And that's kind of loyal congressman 1st District voters can expect Koster to be. Which might explain why his biggest contributors are mostly developers and related businesses.