To support the work The Stranger put into researching the issues and interviewing these candidates, you can make a donation here.

Sorry for interrupting your longform protest for racial justice, your eternal hunt for instant yeast, your guiltless Netflix binge, your Animal Crossing zen hour, your YouTube exercise video, your deeply unsatisfying Zoom party, your longstanding date with the unemployment office’s hold music, and the private simmering existential panic you’ve valiantly kept hidden just below the surface since early March.

But there is a major primary election on August 4. We need to make some decisions about who is going to lead us out of this howling pit of despair and tragedy. And do you realize how many fucking boring meetings with politicians we sat through so you didn’t have to?

We thought getting tear-gassed for a week in our own offices was bad, but it pales in comparison to a month of Zoom calls with mendacious COVID-truthers and mealymouthed incumbents. After a few days, we had to start taking bong rips of tear gas between meetings to just feel alive.

Sponsored

We endured these trials and subsequent gastrointestinal catastrophes for you—our responsibly quarantined, dutifully masked, frantically masturbating readership—and for the fate of our over-policed, unemployed, virus-ridden state, which is slip-’n’-sliding into a Second Great Depression as our malignant President plays golf from the safety of his bunker.

We’ll deal with that asshole in November, but right now we gotta focus on cleaning up our own house. In addition to nearly every seat in the state legislature, this year we will elect all of our statewide executive positions, all ten of our seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, and gobs of judicial positions. Broadly, the choices are progressive taxation or barbaric austerity. Police reform or gas for kidz. Governor Jay Inslee or literally the most embarrassing collection of Republican grifters the SECB has ever seen.

You will be getting your primary ballot in the mail any moment, and it is due on August 4. The top two candidates in each race advance to November’s general election.

As always, the Stranger Election Control Board is here to make things easy. So wash your hands, mask up, grab your ballot out of the mailbox, find a black pen, load your bong with your less-lethal chemical agent of choice, and read every single one of our lovingly researched but scornfully written endorsements below so you don’t sound like a fucking rube at your next socially distant Dungeons and Dragons tournament and/or orgy.

The Stranger Election Control Board is Matt Baume, Chase Burns, Christopher Frizzelle, Nathalie Graham, Jasmyne Keimig, Charles Mudede, a retired CHOP guard who gives his name as “Blade," and Rich Smith. The Stranger does not endorse in uncontested races—which, for this primary election, means races with two or fewer people in them. We also don’t endorse in races we totally forgot about because of tear-gas poisoning.




United States Representative
Congressional District No. 1


Suzan DelBene represents about a third of King County in the US House of Representatives (but only the boring parts, like Kirkland and Bothell) and then lots of snowy, rural communities all the way up to the Canadian border.

Even though she’s wishy-washy about some issues SECB very much cares about (defunding police, decriminalizing sex work, and the Green New Deal), she is also a Democrat who’s figured out a way to hold a district filled with fuckwits wearing MAGA hats around the house.

The SECB endorsed DelBene in 2012, 2014, 2016, and 2018, and every single time we complained about her dullness, once calling her the human equivalent of a shrug emoji. But guess what? The people running against her—all men—are two Republicans (fuuuuck off), a libertarian (hell no), a businessman in the mining industry (lol), and a Mormon who does not have a political party. We’d rather endorse anal beads dipped in Pop Rocks dipped in COVID than any of those guys, so DelBene it is!

Besides, even though she’s not a progressive hero—she voted for Joe Biden in the primary—she actually gives a shit about things like reducing child poverty, expanding affordable housing, funding mental health services more fully, and protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination. Vote DelBene.


United States Representative
Congressional District No. 7


Almost four years ago, Pramila Jayapal won the seat in Congress vacated by Jim McDermott, who retired from politics. And so she’s spent her time in the House of Representatives entirely in the shadow of a White House run by someone who thinks we should inject ourselves with bleach to protect from COVID. After you, Mister President!

Jayapal hopes when she is reelected in 2020 that Trump will officially become a thing of the past. But even if this happens, which seems likely, she wants the leader of her party, Joe Biden, to stick to a clear leftist agenda. “It’s the only way we can prevent another Trump from happening,” said Jayapal. “I told Biden that it was centrist politics that made Trump possible, and centrist politics will only bring him or someone like him back into power.”

On the political spectrum, Jayapal stands close to Bernie Sanders. And her record in office is pretty consistent with that position. She has fought for the deep reduction of student debt, and for free tuition for working families. She has pushed for legislation that addresses the environmental crisis, which has not taken a break because of the pandemic. She also wrote the damn House version of Medicare for All. But at the moment, her focus has been protecting people from the economic crash caused by the pandemic and Trump’s deranged mismanagement of it.

This is the core of her famous proposal, the Paycheck Recovery Act: to keep people working and insured. The act has received national attention because the US does not have a structurally deep plan to deal with the social consequences of the pandemic.

Interesting detail about her office: In her first term, she has responded to over 300,000 emails and letters from constituents. Jayapal said, “That’s impressive, right?” Yes, it is Congresswoman. Keep up the good work. Vote Jayapal.


United States Representative
Congressional District No. 9


Adam Smith is chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, so naturally we started off our meeting by talking about what a fraud and a turd Trump is.

That took a little while, and then the subject turned to Smith’s record. Smith negotiated the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, which shamefully did not include a one-year ban on arms sales to Saudi Arabia. But it did include “the largest social welfare increase since the Affordable Care Act,” Smith said, “and that would not have happened if I had not been chairman of the Armed Services Committee.” The big thing in that legislation was paid parental leave for all federal employees, but there were also hundreds of other things, like fixing a problem with benefits for widows and widowers, giving service members the ability to sue for medical malpractice, sending $10 million in aid to Puerto Rico, and more.

His priorities if he’s given another term? “We desperately need to update, upgrade, and improve the Affordable Care Act to get better health care to people,” he said. He also talked about comprehensive immigration reform, fixing “glaring holes” in gun laws around background checks, systemic racism in law enforcement (“We have got to totally reexamine the way we do law enforcement”), equality in general (“I have always been very vocal about the fact that our society is fundamentally racist and fundamentally sexist”), climate change (he has signed on to the Green New Deal), and progressive taxation (he’s “excited about the tax that Seattle just passed, because I really believe that a huge part of the problem in our country right now is the concentration of wealth”). This one’s easy, mostly because no one is running to the left of him this time. Vote Smith.


United States Representative
Congressional District No.10


We are not sending anyone to Congress from a reliably blue district who does not unequivocally support Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. The only person who fits that criteria in this race—and who actually showed up to our fucking meeting—is Beth Doglio, the two-term House Rep from Olympia.

As the founding executive director of the Washington Conservation Voters, Doglio has been fighting for the environment since the early 1990s, and she’s gotten results. She stood up to the coal industry as regional director of the Power Past Coal campaign, which stopped seven export facility proposals dead in their tracks. She’s taken on the chemical industry and won, and she’s organized with NARAL.

In the House, she was an early supporter of the successful I-940 campaign, she proposed a couple decent housing bills and got one passed, and she sponsored a bill to tax big businesses based on the wealth gap within their own companies. She cites Rep. Pramila Jayapal as the model for how she’ll run her own office if she gets to Congress, and that combined-sewer overflow of spineless dorks could certainly use another organizer-representative like Jayapal.

Support The Stranger

Former State House Rep. Kristine Reeves, who is also in this race, blamed former House Speaker Frank Chopp for all the bad votes she took in the legislature, which didn’t exactly inspire confidence. And the reasoning Reeves gave for her bad vote against modest eviction reforms, which Chopp said he didn’t tell her to take, was complete and utter bullshit.

Some of us were sort of rooting for Joshua Collins, a 26-year-old socialist trucker who got into this race early and raised an impressive amount of money on Twitter, TikTok, and Discord, but he didn’t show up to our meeting after saying he would. Plus, his campaign is a mess—the Thurston County Democrats accused him and his campaign staff of violating “fair campaign practices” by making false accusations and harassing their members online. Plus, he implied on Facebook that Bernie Sanders got the idea to cancel all medical debt from him. Uh huh. Vote Doglio.



Governor


Okay, so let’s see, our choices for the highest executive position in the state are Tim Eyman, an alleged chair thief liberator of discount office furniture who wants to take away trains and busses; Loren Culp, a small-town police chief who promised not to enforce voter-approved gun safety laws and who was “accused in a lawsuit of botching a child sexual-abuse investigation and intimidating the victim with threats of a false-claims charge," according to the Seattle Times; Joshua Freed, a churchy anti-vaxxer that newspaper called a “magnet for controversy”; Goodspaceguy and literally 31 other people who are self-evidently bonkers or who have no chance; or our current two-term Governor who spends most of his political capital trying to tackle the largest and most pressing existential threat to humanity.

Uh, we’re going with mountain zaddy and half-decent whistler Jay Inslee. Yes, he’s basically a standard-issue corporate Democrat who once delivered Boeing the largest tax break in U.S. history, who actually thinks we may not need new progressive taxes that we definitely need to fill our $9 billion budget hole, who dismissed riot gear as “shin guards” in our meeting, who voted for Joe Biden in the presidential primary, who approved COVID-19 guidance for farmworkers that doesn’t go anywhere near far enough to protect them from the outbreaks they’re already enduring, etc., etc., etc., we really could go on. But, aside from caving too often to industry concerns, he has done a good job steering the state through the pandemic. And if he gets a few more Democratic Senators who are serious about climate change, he promises “really, really good things are going to happen” on that rapidly melting front. Vote Inslee.


Lieutenant Governor


Sen. Marko Liias bills himself as the progressive in this race. And he is. But mostly because the other options are a handful of washed up Republicans and retiring U.S. House Rep. Denny Heck.

During his time in the Senate, Liias floated a bad car tab fix, voted along with the rest of his colleagues to create a giant premium tax loophole for big business, and sponsored a bill to enrich predatory payday lenders. But we forgive him these trespasses, as he’s since offered reasonable replies/excuses/apologies. And he’s done some great stuff, too. He created real and lasting structural change for the LGBTQ community by helping to draft the LGBTQ Commission legislation, he supported good health care bills, and he promises to throw his weight around to FINALLY pass the clean fuel standard and a state-based or regional single-payer bill.

He also pinned a recipe for a Doritos casserole to his Pinterest board, and that’s exactly the kind of apocalyptic party snacking energy the SECB expects to see in our leaders. Most importantly, as the Senate floor leader for the last three sessions, Liias knows parliamentary procedure inside and out, and he wipes the floor with GOP knuckle-draggers when they start spewing bigoted bile during debates.

Meanwhile, Heck was going to retire from politics to spend more time writing novels full of steamy sex scenes until outgoing Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib vacated his seat to join the cloth. We don’t want someone who’s going to treat the office like a gig as a Wal-Mart greeter. And we definitely don’t want someone who wouldn’t say if he supported just-cause legislation, who thinks cops can be hate-crimed, and whose primary ambition is to be a steadfast champion of “civility.”

To quote Liias, “Civility is the way the white power structure prevents change. I don’t think we should be uncivil, but I don’t think that placing civility as one of our top goals is going to help us make bold change.” Neither do we, motherfuckers!!! This will be an uphill battle for Liias. Heck has more name recognition, and the last time Liias ran for statewide office he didn’t even make it through the primary. This time, he will. But only if you do what we say. Which you should. Vote Liias.


Secretary of State


Washington needs a Secretary of State who will keep our elections fair, accurate, and free from shadowy networks of hackers with admittedly cool handles. But we also deserve someone willing to defend our voting system against attacks from our very own President, and someone who will campaign hard to continue expanding voting rights in Washington. Rep. Gael Tarleton is the only candidate in this race who will do both.

Tarleton worked as a senior defense analyst for the Pentagon. She brought that knowledge to bear as Majority Floor Leader in the House, where she passed laws to beef up cybersecurity in our elections, improve voter outreach and education, and expand voter access across the state. She has no experience administering elections, but she’s written the damn bills on elections, and she’s fired up about defending democracy.

In her two terms as Secretary of State and in her 12 years as Thurston County Auditor, incumbent Kim Wyman has directed over 100 elections. Despite all that experience, her implementation of the state’s electronic filing and voter registration system has been a fucking shitshow. According to the Seattle Times, some of the system’s issues were “so troubling” they prompted King County officials to “use parts of King County’s existing system” to run last year’s August primary. Wyman waved away the issues as minor glitches—but they weren’t.

Like nearly every other Republican with a college degree, she actively distances herself from Donald Trump, selling herself as a nonpartisan actor who wants to keep the office politically neutral. She wouldn’t vote in the last presidential primary or explicitly condemn the President’s recent attacks on the voting system she oversees for that very reason, and said she doesn’t “weigh in” on “social issues.”

But that’s horseshit. She was happy to oppose the “social issue” of extending local voting rights to noncitizens (as was Tarleton, for that matter) in our meeting, and happy to oppose the Washington Voting Rights Act in 2012. And though she says she didn’t use her clout as a Secretary of State to testify against H.R. 1—a bill proposed by House Democrats that would expand voter registration, limit voter purges, and end partisan gerrymandering—she and the other Republican Secretaries of State signed a letter to U.S. House leaders in March of 2019 expressing their “deep concern over, and opposition to, HR 1.” Signing a partisan letter opposing a voting rights bill isn’t merely “describing our experience in Washington,” Kim. We may be doing bong rips of tear gas, but we’re not morons. Vote Tarleton.


State Auditor


With COVID-19 drilling holes in state budgets, with the entire Employment Securities Department basically up in flames, and with more investigations likely coming down the pike in the wake of the state’s response to the pandemic, there’s only one person we can depend on—that’s right, the fucking State Auditor. And we want that State Auditor to be Pat McCarthy.

This unglamorous, pencil-pushing position is about as stale as you’d expect, but, boy did we have a lively endorsement head-to-head with McCarthy, who is the incumbent, and Joshua Casey, the King of People Who Refer to Themselves as CPAs (not his official title, but maybe it should be). Casey’s main position is that a CPA should be in charge of the auditor’s department. McCarthy said that you don’t have to be a CPA to run the office. Casey bit back, saying he was sure that McCarthy was “rolling in comptrollers.” We’re guessing that’s a go-for-the-throat insult in the auditing world.

McCarthy has been at the helm of the auditor’s department since 2017, and, as far as we can tell, she’s doing a perfectly fine job. McCarthy was the first woman to fill the role, she’s had a lifetime of public service, and she’s currently leading the audit of ESD’s benefit delivery processes, paying special attention to that little detail about getting plundered by a Nigerian fraud ring.

She does have plenty of room to grow, though. Her biggest boast about her time in office was modernizing the auditor’s website, and she answered a question about equitable hiring practices in her department by saying they had “young, diverse, and older” people. But we’re sticking with Pat. Especially since Casey scoffed at the retainment rate in the auditor’s office by saying a $62,000 annual salary is pennies for a CPA. Read the room, Joshua; we’re journalists! Vote Pat.


Attorney General


Bob Ferguson’s office fights for just about every issue that matters with the casual intensity of a chessmaster in the middle of an 18-person simul, and we cannot get enough of it. Whether it’s lawsuits over nondiscrimination, gun safety, immigration rights, campaign transparency, environmental protections, or the Trump administration’s batshit executive orders, he’s fighting and he’s winning. (He also sued Comcast, fulfilling the fantasies of anyone who has ever had to interact with that company.)

Sure, he’s not as radical as some might want, telling The Stranger that he supports a “reimagining” of police budgets rather than massively defunding them. But he’s also “open” to the decriminalization of sex work, which is a lot better than you’re likely to hear from his competitors.

Republican opponent Matt Larkin opposes safe injection sites and says the state’s coronavirus response was too aggressive. Another candidate, Brett Rogers, a lawyer for the Seattle Police, opposes gun control and says the state AG shouldn’t enforce consumer protections when businesses turn away queer customers. Don’t vote for those assholes.

If Ferguson wins re-election, he says he plans to tackle opioid abuse, and to expand litigation around civil rights and environmental issues. Given his track record of wins, Washington is in good hands with him continuing that work. Vote Ferguson.


Commissioner of Public Lands


We stan Hilary Franz. With a background in environmental justice, Franz has been taking the Department of Natural Resources to new heights since her election win in 2016, and when you speak to her it’s clear that she’s a huge nerd for the kind of nitty-gritty policy minutiae that would put lesser leaders to sleep.

Just a fleeting mention of salmon, firefighting, and invasive ghost shrimp is enough to get her talking a mile a minute about her office’s work to literally save the planet. And she puts her money where her mouth is when it comes to supporting tribal access to land, improving wages for inmates who fight wildfires, and installing wind and solar fields to transition Washington to 100 percent clean energy. Meanwhile, her only Democratic opponent has a campaign website that is just a WordPress blog that he hasn’t gotten around to filling out yet; her other opponents are Republican and a Libertarian blowhard. Vote Franz.


Insurance Commissioner


Mike Kreidler has served as the insurance commissioner since 2000, and the SECB wants him to continue serving for a number of reasons, one of which is the key role he played in ending “surprise billing” in the State of Washington.

This devious practice, which is backed by private equity firms, is when a hospital hides from the insured patient the actual status of their health providers. You think everything is covered, but then—surprise! You get a bill you did not expect from such-and-such a doctor who is not a part of the hospital you are covered for. “The bill often runs into the thousands,” explains Kreidler, “and it puts the customer at the center of the billing process, when it really should be a matter between the hospital and the insurance company.”

The next thing Kreidler is working on is the credit score scam. Since around 2000, insurance companies have used credit scores to determine the cost of a plan. If your credit is bad, you pay more. “I have fought against this since entering office,” explained Kreidler. He wants to bring an end to it because it unfairly impacts the poor, a large number of whom are Black. “So, there are cases where a person with a DUI on their record is paying less for car insurance than a person with a bad credit rating,” says Kreidler, who sees this as a form of structural racism.

“Yes, the companies are not looking at color,” says Kreidler, “they are using an algorithm. An algorithm sees no color, they say. But for historical reasons, Blacks are overrepresented in poverty. And so, they will end up paying more for car insurance.” Kreidler also points out that in this period of the pandemic, a period when many are unemployed, credit scores will only get worse, and this will only make life harder for those already in a hard position. Vote Kreidler


Superintendent of Public Schools


Chris Reykdal, the current Superintendent of Public Education, needs to keep his job. In the face of COVID-19, Reykdal has been responsibly closing schools, navigating remote learning when 735,000 Washingtonians don’t have internet access, providing meals for the kids who relied on school for getting fed, and much more.

Reykdal does not have an easy job ahead of him this year, especially as it becomes clearer and clearer that opening schools might be a big fucking mess. Despite what Trump has said around opening schools completely, Reykdal has acknowledged that school won’t happen this year without some form of remote learning. Reykdal told the SECB he’d love to see the internet as a public utility, and that universal connectivity is “fundamental” to learning.

Aside from excelling at the job in the last few months, he’s running against some absolute bozos. The only other candidate who responded to our endorsement Zoom call (the event of the season, ask anyone) was David Spring, a so-called “Progressive” who only showed up to tell us that the coronavirus was fake, to yell about the comprehensive sexual health education bill that passed in the legislature last session, and to pitch his book. Spring doesn’t want kindergartners learning the kama sutra, which is all well and good since the sex ed bill that Reykdal spearheaded doesn’t do that! Reykdal said that it’s not okay that some people “want to live in the dark” on sex ed, and he’s right.

Reykdal is also fully aware of the racial inequities within the Washington school system. He and his staff are committed to anti-racist work, and they’re looking into fixing policies that create equity gaps. We’ll be watching. Vote Reykdal.


Legislative District No. 11
Representative Position No. 1


For 18 years, one of the most diverse districts in the state has been represented by Zack Hudgins, a white, incrementalist Democrat who insists on spelling his first name with a “k" instead of an “h.” Hudgins is also a landlord who has racked up four violations and five complaints from Seattle, including one 2017 violation of the city’s just cause ordinance.

Though he has pushed for some good bills in his day, his recent accomplishments include voting against modest eviction reforms (shocker!) that passed anyway, and stopping Senate Democrats from passing a bad data privacy bill, which was honestly a low-key big deal. Hudgins now says he “probably” should have amended the eviction reform bill rather than vote against it, but he was too busy “fighting the biggest tech companies” on the privacy bill to pay attention to one of the biggest issues in his district. But if Hudgins really is such a wiz legislator, he would’ve just amended the bill in the first place.

Hudgins also credits his, uh, “success” this cycle with his ability to “bring Republicans along,” and adds that his own “mid-western white boy…good manners” prevent him from standing on the table and truly championing progressive legislation. A couple things: (1) Um, what? (2) How many times do we have to say this? Democrats control the House, the Senate, and the Governor’s mansion. It’s BEEN time to USE the LARGE majority instead of wasting time watering down bills on the off chance a Republican decides to co-sponsor some fucking task force. GOD. DAMN IT.

Luckily for the people of South Seattle, David Hackney plans to actually use the large majority Democrats already have to get shit done. Hackney is a former federal prosecutor who most recently took a job in HR at Amazon investigating discrimination/harassment claims, but he says he didn’t like the vibe and left. He’s never been elected, but he has worked on Jessyn Farrell’s campaigns, the campaign to repeal the ban on affirmative action, and the gun safety initiative.

He promises to champion tenant protections (including just cause and rent stabilization measures), single-payer health care, police reforms, and criminal justice reforms, and he vows to bring the energy of an organizer to this office. We’re not particularly pumped about backing a prosecutor, but Hackney says he’ll use his knowledge of the system to fix it by advocating for independent investigations and independent authorities to prosecute cops who kill. Vote Hackney.


Legislative District No. 30
Representative Position No. 1


Jamila Taylor is an attorney who has done a lot of work on domestic violence and criminal justice issues, and who has clearly memorized the list of talking points that someone has passed around to every single first-time candidate running for the legislature on the Democratic ticket. While she didn’t exactly bowl us over with her original public policy ideas, she’s an experienced nonprofit leader, a caregiver, and a renter who has been gouged for years like the rest of us—so she’s lived the issues we’re sending her to Olympia to fix. We also know we don’t want her competition, Cheryl Hurst, anywhere near a political office. Hurst is an iPad mom with a Karen haircut who took a church group crash course on how to solve homelessness. She said the fear of walking through the woods near her house prompted her to buy a gun…to shoot trees, we guess? We’re not sure. At one point she referenced the kings of Iraq, and the SECB was trying so hard not to laugh during our Zoom call that we blocked the whole thing out.

Taylor, at least, is in favor of progressive taxation. Hurst prefers cuts. From where? Great question. She suggested “maybe it’s management we take out.” Okay, Cheryl, why don’t you just fire the “managers” of the government. The rest of us will vote Taylor.


Legislative District No. 30
Representative Position No. 2


There’s really only one option in this race, and it’s Jesse Johnson. Earlier this year, the King County and Pierce County councils appointed the former Federal Way City Council member to fill this seat. Though the short session was a manic whirlwind, Johnson lost no time passing bills to expand access to dental care and mental health services and to establish an environmental education program in high schools across the state. If reelected, he plans to continue focusing on health care, education, affordable housing, and supporting small businesses—all good things!

Johnson also stepped up to serve on the Black Caucus, where he tells us he wants to continue to work with other members to push for police reform (though he does not support defunding the police, womp womp). As for his opponents? One is perennial candidate Mark Greene, who refers to Olympia as “Potemkin Village,” and who may have been catfished during his last race; another is a Mormon ice cream shop owner-cum-partypooper who campaigned to keep legal retail pot shops out of Federal Way; and the other’s last name looks like a typo. Vote Johnson.


Legislative District No. 32
Representative Position No. 1


We ended our meeting with Cindy Ryu wishing we could go to a Thanksgiving dinner with her. She’s frank in a way that other legislators are not.

Ryu is down with progressive taxes, but she can’t commit (though we wish she would) to standing on a table and championing any of them—“I have acrophobia,” she joked, “I’ll fall off.” Nah, but really, she says she supports a capital gains tax, but argues that it won’t help in the short-term, so lawmakers will have to fill the gaping budget hole with regressive taxes and fees for the time being. We didn’t love to hear it, but we appreciated the candor.

In better news, Ryu’s record on police reform is solid. She fought for I-940, she was part of the leadership on establishing a joint legislative task force on community policing standards, and we’re confident she’s got more stuff up her sleeves the cops will not like very much!

Ryu is also decent on housing—she’s up for density and for tackling single-family zoning, she’s on board with just cause protections for renters (but not quite rent control, she is a commercial landlord, after all), and she wants to fight for home-grown pot.

Her opponent, Keith Smith, has run against Ryu three times—once as an independent, once as a centrist, and now, it seems, as a progressive. Apart from his rapid, um, evolution as a political thinker, he’s so used to running against Ryu that he felt comfortable wearing an Aeropostale t-shirt to the SECB meeting. We don’t know which sin is worse. Vote Ryu.


Legislative District No. 32
Representative Position No. 2


Lauren Davis spent her first term in the Legislature sponsoring good bills that touched on reforming the criminal legal system, mental health, treatment and recovery, domestic violence, safety, and health care. Davis has another laundry list of shit to do next term, so we’ve got to keep her there. She’s down with a capital gains tax, and will commit to voting for one. She’d be in favor of an income tax but doesn’t see a path forward there. She wants to plug budget holes by passing legislation that would close the tax preference for the opioid industry and by adding an opioid impact fee, which sounds good. Tamra Smilanich is a “non partisan party” candidate who wants to “avoid a state income tax,” and Grey Petersen’s heart is in the right place, but he has no experience. None for us, thanks! Vote Davis.


Legislative District No. 36
Representative Position No. 2


Here we have a choice between Sarah Reyneveld, an assistant attorney general; Liz Berry, a lobbyist who runs the trial lawyer’s association; and Jeffrey M. Cohen, a cheery pile of protein powder who holds progressive views but says his favorite book is Atlas Shrugged. (Our guess is he stopped reading after college.)

All three promised to fight for progressive taxation, vote for meaningful climate change legislation, defund police, help end cash bail, back the right housing bills, and increase tenant protections. Most importantly, they all agreed to name and shame Democratic colleagues who don’t support all of that. But Berry’s commitment to lead on gun safety legislation stood out, and she was the only candidate who said she wouldn’t respond to the massive statewide budget crisis by voting to impose austerity measures next session.

Unfortunately, we only learned that bit of information after our endorsement meeting, when Reyneveld told the Seattle Times Editorial Board that “essential services...must be preserved even if that means some nonessential state employees are let go,” as the Times put it. She characterized her position on cuts a little differently in our meeting. “We can’t make the mistakes of austerity,” she said. Cutting public sector jobs is making the mistakes of austerity. And even though most of these Democrats are going to end up folding and voting for cuts anyway, we trust Berry to hold the line. Vote Berry.


Legislative District No. 37
Representative Position No. 1


Ugh. UGH. Uuuuuuuuuuuuuuugh. John Stafford is a white, bellicose political hobbyist and Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos is an absolute incrementalist who has done very little with the power she’s accrued over the last 20 years. What horrible choices. We’re voting for Santos because, well... hold on, let us check our notes... mostly because she’s not a huge windbag.

The 37th district, the most diverse in the state, deserves a representative who’s actually going to do something, and for that representative not to be Stafford. Still, Santos is middling on police reform, she defended her vote for a predatory payday lending bill as if it was good for people of color, and she openly admits to knowing jack about climate change. When we asked about her accomplishments last session, she pointed to some workgroups.

She has taken some good votes over the years, though. She refused to vote for the big Boeing tax break, she ultimately voted for a comprehensive sexual health bill this year (despite some setbacks we blamed her for last year), and she’s sponsored bills to help ex-cons reintegrate into society—even if she can’t remember them. And no one in Olympia should be subjected to Stafford’s tedious tirades. Vote Santos.


Legislative District No. 37
Representative Position No. 2


Kirsten Harris-Talley is the real deal. She’s the whole package. You may remember good ol’ KHT from when she filled in at the Seattle City Council during the budget process after Mayor Ed Murray resigned in disgrace. She was a progressive force in that process, directing more than $400,000 toward human services. She also bravely re-introduced the head tax, which would have helped pay for housing.

Chukundi Salisbury is the other major candidate in this race. He’s an Environmental Engagement Manager at Seattle Parks and Recreation, a DJ, and a prominent member of the district he aims to serve in the Legislature. As much as we loved Salisbury, we are confident KHT will be more effective in the position. She knows the ins and outs of Olympia, she knows the right lawmakers to talk to, she knows the commissions to work on, and she just knows...everything. There was not one issue we raised that she hadn't already considered in a million different ways.

Harris-Talley supports a capital gains tax, an income tax, and she’s passionate about addressing the air quality inequity that constituents in her district face. Salisbury also supports these measures, but Harris-Talley spoke about what she would do in specific detail--get the HEAL Act passed, support a carbon tax and a clean fuel standard, invest in transit…and she called Tim Eyman “this fuckin’ guy” in the process). Salisbury is also more conservative on tenant issues, and he thinks that you can gouge rents in a patchwork fashion on high-income neighborhoods. How about just no gouging anywhere? Vote Harris-Talley.


Legislative District No. 41
Representative Position No. 2


Rep. My-Linh Thai is a trained pharmacist, a Vietnamese refugee, and a pragmatic leftist. When asked if she supported free transit for all, she said she’d rather build a more robust transit system statewide before we started talking about making it free. Kind of a false choice, but we’ll take it, especially from someone with the unenviable task of representing Mercer Island. Woof.

Anyway, Thai’s wheelhouse is education. In her first term, she sponsored a bill to mandate 20-minute, sit-down school lunches statewide because we live in a barbaric state of madness where some schools don’t guarantee 20 minutes for a kid to sit down and have a goddamned lunch. A few Senate Democrats resisted *cough* Palumbo, Mullet *cough* and now all we have is a study to determine whether or not 20-minute lunches are a good idea.

But Thai wants to push toward implementation after the study is done, plus get cops out of schools and get the state to fund rooms near schools where homeless kids can crash. Her opponent is an “independent” Issaquah school board member and emergency room physician who makes specious arguments to justify his burning desire to relax social distancing guidelines to get kids in school faster.

So, vote Thai.


Legislative District No. 43
Representative Position No. 1


Washington state renters have few allies like two-term incumbent Rep. Nicole Macri, who has repeatedly introduced bills to repeal our statewide ban on rent control. Those bills haven’t passed because “several” of Macri’s colleagues—“mostly Republicans but also Democrats”—are grimy ass landlords.

Despite these landholding numbnuts, Macri frequently corrals Dems into supporting her agenda. Perhaps Macri’s ability to unify electeds is what’s stopping significant challengers from entering this race. She’s facing off against a rando Republican who says he’s running to give Republicans “someone to vote for besides Donald Duck or Minnie Mouse,” and an independent who wants all issues in the House to be decided by a public vote from every single Washingtonian. Who has the time?

The only problem we currently have with Macri is that there’s only one of her. Washington needs a statehouse full of Macris, but until we can get some undertaxed tech giant to make us a cloning machine, we suggest you reelect the one Macri we have. Vote Macri.


Legislative District No. 43
Representative Position No. 2


There is no way longtime former House Speaker Frank Chopp is going to lose this seat. This straight, white, cisgender mustache has been representing the queerest district in the state for 25 years now, and he’s just too well-connected, too well-funded, too powerful, and too mustachioed to go down.

But if there’s anybody prepared to replace him—and to hold him accountable in the meantime—it’s Sherae Lascelles. As Lascelles made clear more than once during our endorsement meeting, Democrats like Chopp talk about bringing marginalized and vulnerable communities to “the table,” but they so rarely get out of the way so that someone from those communities can run the fucking table.

“I’m told people who don’t look like me know better how to represent me. It’s gaslighting. It’s a literal mindfuck,” Lascelles said. Lascelles has lived in teen homeless shelters east of the mountains, they’ve been through the foster care system, they’ve rented in Seattle as prices have skyrocketed, they’ve endured institutional racism and survived life as a sex worker. And in response, they’ve dedicated their career to reforming a system designed to jail or to kill them.

That work included founding two nonprofits focused on sex work: People of Color Sex Worker Outreach Program and Green Light Project, which built a hand sanitizer factory for sex workers during COVID and pushed the Seattle City Council to repeal its drug traffic and prostitution loitering laws. They want to take that success to the state level, where they support taxing the holy fuck out of the rich, investing massive dollars in housing, and ending the homelessness crisis.

During his eons in this seat, Chopp has consistently—to borrow a phrase from his fellow lawmakers—“Chopped” pieces of progressive legislation in order to build and preserve a majority that Democrats then refuse to use to its fullest extent. Now that he’s stepped down from his leadership role, Chopp says he’s free to dream big, but we’re not buying it.

His Public Priorities and Progressive Revenues Plan would only nearly patch our $9 billion budget hole, and it would do so with watered-down versions of taxes already proposed by other lawmakers. Though getting these taxes on the books and increasing them later is a nice thought, the fact is we’ve been suffering through several major crises BEFORE the pandemic, and this incremental shit just doesn’t cut it anymore. Chopp’s business-friendly strategy has produced real results that have undoubtedly helped the people of his district and the state in general—but it’s far from enough, and his path forward is unacceptably slow. The 43rd deserves a representative who will fight for more.

Vote Lascelles.


Legislative District No. 45
Representative Position No. 2


Look, we don’t love incumbent Larry Springer. He’s been pretty blegh. Like when he voted against tenant protections or sponsored a bill to give a tax break to people selling private planes out of state. Seriously, Larry? A tax break for private planes??? Still, his competition is Amber Krabach, a QAnon Republican who keeps posting antifa conspiracies on her Facebook page, and who asked whether Washington was ready to apologize to Rep. Matt Shea yet. (Uh, no, Amber!) Springer has been the representative for the district for over a decade, and it looks like that’s not going to change any time soon until someone in Kirkland gets their act together. Until then, vote Springer.


Legislative District No. 47
Representative Position No. 2


Republican challenger Ted Cook doesn’t think trans people exist. Republican challenger Peter Thompson Jr. may be running a troll campaign, as he lists “praying for the souls of roadkill” as his community service in the voter guide. (He also promises to “create an Evergreen Grocery Card so every person gets three hundred dollars a month for unprocessed, unfertilized, unpoisoned food.”) And Republican challenger Joseph Cimaomo Jr is a Covington City Councilmember who calls himself “a follower of Christ” and a “book worm [sic].” Maybe he can follow Christ right on over to the dictionary, where he will learn that bookworm is a fucking compound word.

Anyway! That leaves us with Democrat Pat Sullivan. At the beginning of the year, we were excited to learn that the moderate House Majority Leader nobly planned to retire, paving the way for the more progressive Kent City Councilmember Satwinder Kaur to run. Then COVID fucked the budget, and “a few people,” including House Speaker Laurie Jinkins, called Sullivan and asked him to come back. And so here he is.

Sullivan has negotiated the last 11 budgets in the legislature, starting all the way back with the grim ones passed during the last Great Recession. Sullivan says his experience will help “the team get through this hard time,” and claims Democratic majorities will give him “the ability to solve the problem without damaging the social safety net, or putting people who are already hurting in worse shape.”

He supports a capital gains tax and tentatively supports a wealth tax, though he says “the devil’s in the details” on that. He also promises to “look at proposals” to cut the Washington State Patrol budget and the Department of Corrections budget, and says he’ll stay away from cutting childcare assistance and welfare. Normally this is the time in the Sullivan endorsement when we yell at him for having a lifetime “A” rating from the NRA, but the Alliance for Gun Responsibility gives him an A rating, too. Times really have changed, haven’t they? Vote Sullivan.


Legislative District No. 48
Representative Position No. 1


Rep. Slatter is a clinical pharmacist and a reliable Democratic vote who sees bills as “salmon swimming upstream, trying to spawn while avoiding predators.” She sees the legislature as the Seattle Seahawks, a team composed of different kinds of people with different strengths all working together to win the Super Bowl of….yeah, we lost the thread, too.

Slatter uses A LOT of metaphors when she talks, but those metaphors have served her well in her efforts to pass…somewhat minor but useful laws. She reset Washington’s emissions limit for greenhouses gasses to the appropriate level, secured a dedicated funding source for telemedicine programs, improved the data we have on homeless youth, and limited the ability of universities to hold transcripts when students owe library fees, which, holy fuck, fuck right off, universities!

She claims she’ll support bills to demilitarize the police, tax the rich, and implement just cause eviction protections and rent stabilization measures. As a member of the Future of Work Task Force, she also says she’s interested in looking at policies “inspired by Universal Basic Income” to “give people transitional dollars to help them get through different stages of their work life,” which is the kind of shit we needed to put in place yesterday. If we send Slatter back, hopefully she can get that football to the spawn hole, or whatever. Her opponent is an ancient Republican who ironically quotes Obama campaign slogans and describes himself as a “roads guy.” No thanks! Vote Slatter.


Legislative District No. 48
Representative Position No. 2


Some members of the SECB who grew up on the Eastside are deeply triggered by the word “Kirkland,” as it evokes a sort of monied, liberal politics that’s more interested in appearance than action.

Incumbent and—ahem—former Mayor of Kirkland Amy Walen doesn’t do much to assuage those SECB members’ anxiety. BUT, she’s the wisest choice in this race full of losers, which includes a Democrat who describes himself as a “fiscal conservative” in 2020 A.D. Go fucking figure.

While Walen certainly isn’t leading the charge on rent control (she’s a landlord), or defunding the police (“I believe we should use resources differently than we do now”), she was part of the big push to pass the comprehensive sexual health education bill this year, which will help reduce our rising STI rates. She is also a strong advocate for gun and debt reform. In other words, the bare minimum. How suburban! Vote Walen.