Pramila Jayapal
  • Courtesy of Pramila Jayapal
  • Pramila Jayapal
Pramila Jayapal, founder of immigrant advocacy organization One America (among many other résumé items), is running for Adam Kline's state senate seat. Kline is set to retire at the end of the year; Jayapal is currently co-chairing Mayor Ed Murray's police chief search committee and serves on his minimum wage committee. She's also a longtime organizer around immigration issues, both here and nationally.

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"I love this district, and I feel like there are so many voices here that have not really come forward," Jayapal says by phone this morning. "I want this to be a campaign not just about electing me but saying what we stand for as a district." The 37th Legislative District includes the Central District, Rainer Valley, Columbia City, Rainier Beach, and Renton (see the map and a full list of neighborhoods over here). It's a very progressive and diverse district; Jayapal would be the only woman of color serving in the state senate.

Why would she want to go down to the garbage hole that is Olympia these days, where you can't even count on simple bipartisan bills aimed at assisting the homeless to make it through the cynical maneuvering of the ruling "bipartisan" coalition?

"I've never taken on anything that's easy," answers Jayapal. "I got started in this work... [by] taking on post-911 stuff, challenging the federal government around deporting Muslims and South Asians. I don't think I'm someone who gets despairing about things that are dysfunctional... That's actually where I see the opportunity." Well, then! There should be plenty of opportunity in Olympia.

We wrote about Jayapal last year, when Cienna and I were asking around about why more women don't run for office around here. So it's great to finally see her throw her hat in the ring. As Dominic pointed out last week, another Dem defecting to the other side offers a stark reminder that the state Democratic Party is in trouble. And it's not because they don't compromise with the right-wing enough—it's because they don't actually stand for anything. There's nothing to be excited about.

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But Jayapal says she has the track record to make inroads on progressive issues in the direst places: "The 37th is extremely progressive compared to the rest of the state. But if I can create relationships with sheriffs in Eastern Washington on the issue of immigration, I've gotta believe that if elected, I could help move the conversation."

She's already endorsed by OneAmerica Votes, UFCW 21, Mayor Murray, King County Council Member Larry Gossett, Former King County Executive Ron Sims, and Seattle City Council Members Mike O'Brien, Sally Clark, Tim Burgess, and Tom Rasmussen, as well as Real Change's Tim Harris and former Seattle Human Rights Commission chair Chris Stearns, among others.