After State Representative Jesse Johnson declined to seek re-election to his post in the 30th Legislative District this year, Democratic concern over the possibility of losing his seat to a Republican increased from practically nonexistent to mild. Last month, two relatively high-profile Democrats eased those concerns a little by filing to run in the newly redrawn district, but a GOP candidate with some apparent institutional support has also emerged. 

Ashli Tagoai, a literal party hack who has held three different job titles at the Washington State Republican Party during her career, threatens to make this more of a race than national trends might otherwise suggest.

Tagoai's years spent in the belly of the beast are paying dividends, as the House Republicans’ campaign committee has ponied up $5,000 to kick-start her campaign. Some of Seattle’s least favorite landlords, namely John Goodman and George Petrie of Compassion Seattle infamy, also kicked in maximum contributions to her campaign. 

Though the GOP threat here may be minimal, the Democratic candidates weren’t taking it for granted. At The Stranger’s endorsement interview last week, both former State Representative Kristine Reeves and First AME Church pastor Carey Anderson conducted themselves like moderates who paid attention when their consultants warned them that anything we wrote could and would be used in the WA GOP’s hackish mailers.

But as they each began to let down their guards in our interview, both of them let slip some seemingly sincere support for progressive policies that could actually help people.

For her part, Reeves added just a dash of populist appeal to her otherwise moderate-Dem menu of policy positions, loudly embracing soon-to-be-Senator Noel Frame’s proposal for a wealth tax on billionaires. Reinforcing her working-parent bona fides, Reeves called the 1% levy on wealth over a billion dollars “generous.” After all, she argued, Washington’s public schools produced much of the talented workforce needed to build that wealth in the first place.

Reeves also drew on her experience as the district’s former Rep in Olympia to spotlight specific areas where Washington needs to shore up abortion protections. In the post-Roe hellscape that almost certainly awaits us, Reeves says the state should guarantee universal access to Plan B by ensuring that state law requires insurance plans to cover it.

She also wants the state to protect women in more culturally conservative areas of the state by closing crisis pregnancy centers in those Republican bastions of “family values,” such as Moses Lake, Spokane, and... Bellevue? Wait, what? We have fake abortion clinics operating in King County? Yes, throughout the state of Washington and likely in your own community, pro-life organizations masquerade as abortion clinics only to do their best to convince pregnant people to choose any option other than abortion in response to unwanted pregnancies. Reeves wants to close them down. 

Pastor Carey Anderson also expressed support for abortion rights, though he was less specific on which legislative levers he’d like to pull to guarantee access to that right. On other issues that affect the poor and working-class Washingtonians he works to support through his church, however, he spoke with the moral authority you’d expect from a man of the cloth.

With refreshing brevity, Anderson gave unqualified support to the idea of lifting the statewide ban on rent control and instituting some form of rent stabilization at the state level. Setting himself apart from an opponent with a mixed track record on tenants’ issues, Anderson even backed the idea of eliminating single-family zoning without reservation. 

South King County will likely advance at least one of these two Democrats, both of whom appear to be running competent campaigns with enough in the bank to fight back against whatever histrionic rhetoric the GOP flings at them.