The results of the upcoming races in the 23rd, 26th and 35th Legislative Districts seem pretty easy to predict.
In the 23rd, I expect that Sherry Appleton will easily win re-election. Appleton works hard for her district and has brought home quite a bit of money from Olympia for things like the Marine Science Center. However, for all the money the Suquamish Tribe generates with its casino and resort, it seems that Appleton should not be looking to have the taxpayers fund anything for them. Her venomous opposition to NASCAR has also strained relations between her and her biggest supporter — organized labor. But I expect they will kiss and make up before it is all over.
I also expect Christine Rolfes will win over incumbent Bev Woods by a small margin. Environmentalists are pouring serious money into that race in an attempt to unseat the veteran legislator. The question you have to ask is what is it they expect as a return on their investment? Woods didn’t do herself any favors by pissing off Congressman Norm Dicks and Bremerton Mayor Cary Bozeman over the proposed tunnel in downtown Bremerton either. That was a boneheaded move — especially since the tunnel is not even in her district. I hope Woods survives. She has done a pretty good job overall — in spite of her vote gutting I-601, and the 23rd will be better off in the long run if she does.
In the 26th, Democrat Derek Kilmer should take the Senate seat of retired veteran Republican Sen. Bob Oke. Kilmer is one of the few Democrats who actually “gets it” about economic development, and the relationship between over taxation and regulation of business, and job creation. He will do a good job for the 26th. His opponent, Jim Hines, is also a stellar candidate who unfortunately agreed to step up and move perennial candidate Lois McMahon out of the way. The Republicans knew McMahon was unelectable, but her stubbornness refused to allow her to step aside. Frankly, Hines actually would have been better off running for the House seat against Democrat Larry Seaquist — a seat I believe he could win.
Speaking of Seaquist… He will win over religious right wing Republican Ron Boehme. This is a race that I personally have some heartburn over. Boehme just makes me want to go wash my hands after being around him. That said, Seaquist on the other hand, at least in my view, is a pompous ass, who does not value any opinions but his own. I know all about his experience and qualifications for the office, and on the surface that should make him a good choice. But in personally attempting to talk to him several times, it is obvious he is not open to new information at any level on any subject he has previously formed an opinion on. Frankly, I do not believe that is a good quality for a legislator. Also after witnessing him at several candidate forums — including one where I was a questioner — I have not seen him actually answer a question. Like Josh Brown, he’s mastered the ability to stay on message and avoid controversy, all the while spouting the Democratic Party line. I would like to see Hines take on Seaquist two years from now. I believe he would be a better "fit" for the 26th.
The race between Pat Lantz and Beckie Krantz is too close to call in my view. I think Lantz is vulnerable, especially considering how close Matt Rice came to upsetting her two years ago without really working too hard at it. Krantz on the other hand is working hard, but does not have a lot of community involvement to speak for her candidacy, and her campaign seemingly lacks direction and focus. I do believe that Krantz, who is quite personable, can upset Lantz if she can get in front of enough voters. The question is, will she be able to? Many people — including a significant number of Democrats I have talked with — feel Lantz should have retired instead of seeking another term.
In the 35th, Tim Shelton will cruise to re-election. There is a lesson for the Democrats here, but unfortunately, they are just not interested in learning it.
Kathy Haigh will also win over newcomer Marco Brown. Haigh has done an average job and Brown offers nothing special to warrant making a change.
I believe that newcomer Randy Neatherlin, a Republican, will upset veteran Democrat Bill “Ike” Eickmeyer. Eickmeyer deserves high marks for his efforts to clean up Hood Canal, but no one I have talked with can name three other things he has done during his nine years in office. Neatherlin is folksy and a little rough around the edges, but spearheading the Theler issue last year, as well as his other community activities speaks well for his level of engagement — something Eickmeyer is lacking.