In an uncommon but politically painless move, over the weekend Governor Jay Inslee endorsed Ingrid Anderson, the psychiatric nurse running slightly to the left of Democratic State Senator Mark Mullet in east King County's 5th Legislative District.
Echoing a point Washington State Nurses Association President Lynnette Vehrs highlighted last month, Inslee stressed the importance of adding a nurse's perspective to the State Senate's ranks during a pandemic.
He also commended Anderson for sharing his "sense of urgency" on passing a clean fuel standard and building "a clean energy economy here in Washington State." Earlier this year Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon named Mullet in a Tweet as a Dem who served as a "roadblock to state level climate action."
Anderson said she was "grateful" for the governor's support.
In a Facebook post, Sen. Mullet said he was "disappointed but not surprised" to hear that Inslee chose his opponent, though he acknowledged his "respect" for the Governor for calling him personally before making the announcement via Anderson's campaign.
Mullet, a former bank executive who now runs ice cream and pizza chains in Issaquah when he's not enjoying his new pool in the backyard of his McMansion, used the rest of his statement to advance a few Republican talking points. He advocated for the Governor to call a special session, which some see as a pathway to imposing austerity measures. He also underscored his opposition to tax increases.
Though Mullet did mention his support for a few of the Governor's policies, he neglected to mention his votes against affirmative action, his efforts to open up multi-million-dollar tax loopholes for big businesses, and his attempt to limit collective bargaining for teachers.
Mullet's strategy of running as a Republican on a Democratic ticket really ramped up two weeks ago, when he spent the better half a Facebook post praising Biden's acceptance speech by dunking on "extreme far left interest groups from Seattle" running the legislature. If only, my dear Mullet, if only.
Mullet's anti-Seattle fear-mongering runs counter to a talking points memo issued by the Washington State Democratic party, which encourages supporters to call out this nonsense as a "rebranding of a failing strategy [Republicans] try every election cycle." The Dems noted Susan Hutchinson's failed "Jobs, not mobs" campaign, Dino Rossi's failed congressional campaign against "Seattle-style" tax hikes, a Washington State Republican talking points memo instructing its followers to attack Seattle, etc., etc.
So far, Mullet's strategy doesn't seem to be working. Anderson beat the incumbent in the August primaries by nearly 500 votes in one of the spendiest races of the election cycle.
So far, Mullet has raised over $300,000 from charter school PACs, Amazon, banks, big tobacco, big pharma, landlords big and small, realtors, every insurance company you can think of, and whoever else wants to block Dems from raising taxes on the wealthy. Big biz PACs have spent over $322,000 advertising on Mullet's behalf as well.
Meanwhile, Anderson has pulled in over $117,000 from unions and from anyone else who wants a senator to back modest environmental legislation and a capital gains tax. Teachers' and health care workers' unions have dumped over $450,000 into the race on Anderson's behalf.
Shasti Conrad, chair of the King County Democrats, said she thinks Inslee's endorsement will help boost Anderson's chances in November. "I think it helps with name recognition and reminds folks that Mullet is not good at his job."
The 5th District, though reddish-purple when Mullet was first elected in 2012, has become more progressive, as evidenced by the 2018 elections of Lisa Callan and Bill Ramos to the State House of Representatives. With Callan running unopposed and Ramos well ahead of his Republican competition, both reps remain on track for re-election in November.
Inslee certainly runs no risk in throwing his weight behind a candidate who might actually support his proposals, especially in a race with no declared Republican.