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Money and moderation: The battle for a key state Senate seat

Voting on the Kitsap Peninsula will decide whether Republicans gain a stronger hand in Olympia.
Nathan Schlicher and Jan Angel at a debate.

Nathan Schlicher and Jan Angel at a debate. Photo: John Stang

The ALEC question popped up. Jan Angel, the Republican candidate in a key state Senate race where donors are spending money like water, appeared to expect it.

ALEC is the American Legislative Exchange Council, and state Rep. Angel, R-Port Orchard, is its Washington chairwoman. ALEC is a national conservative organization consisting of state legislators and corporate interests that collaborate on creating "model bills" to be pushed in individual states.

Angel and her opponent, Sen. Nathan Schlicher, D-Gig Harbor, were answering questions from the League of Women Voters and roughly 100 people in Bremerton as part of their duel for the 26th District state Senate seat covering an area from south Bremerton to Gig Harbor. It's a special election in a swing district race that is being closely watched because of its effects on the tight balance of power in the state Senate.

ALEC is an important issue in a race where both candidates want to be seen as moderates. It happened to be Schlicher's turn to answer first when the ALEC came up. To him, it's an organization that hurts the middle class and lets lobbyists and legislators act in concert out of public view in writing bills. With its donors unknown, he said, "There's no transparency."

Angel acknowledged the question was likely prompted by her chair role but she said of Schlicher's contentions, "This is a bunch of hooey." As chair, she said, she passed ALEC recommendations to the caucuses of both political parties, not just her own Republicans.

An occasional Washington Democrat has belonged to ALEC, but all have severed ties. There are currently 14 Republican legislators in Washington who belong to ALEC, and most are considered among the most conservative lawmakers.

If Angel wins, the Senate's Republican-dominated Majority Coalition Caucus will gain a slightly bigger 26-23 cushion. A victory for Schlicher, who was appointed in January to replace a Democrat elected to Congress, would leave the split at 25-24. But it would also make it much easier for Democrats to have a shot at regaining control of the Senate in the November 2014 elections. The well-disciplined Majority Coalition Caucus would likely maintain its tight control with the one-vote margin next year. A Democratic win, however, might create more momentum for aggressive transportation improvements later this year or in the legislative session that begins in January.

In the August primary, Angel, who has good name recognition from serving in the state House since 2009 and earlier on the Kitsap County Commission, scored first blood by taking 54.6 percent of the vote.

Already, the two candidates' direct contributions total nearly $1.1 million, far exceeding the $814,000 raised in 2012's most expensive legislative race. That was the bitter battle between Vancouver Republican Sen. Don Benton and Democratic challenger Tim Probst where Benton's 74-vote victory led two Democratic senators to switch sides to create the Majority Coalition Caucus. So far, Angel has collected some $624,00 and Schlicher has raised $472,000, according to the Washington Public Disclosure Commission.

And that's not even the half of it. A Gig Harbor-based Political Action Committee — She's Changed PAC, aimed against Angel — has raised nearly $1 million in cash. Meanwhile, the Times reported that the Centralia-based Good Government Leadership Council, which is reportedly backing Angel, has raised at least $575,000 in cash.

Bottom line: This is a $2.5 million race with two weeks still to go.

At the League of Women Voters forum, Schlicher and Angel both portrayed themselves as moderates. Schlicher pointed to an endorsement by the editorial board of The Seattle Times, which also backed Republican Rob McKenna for governor last year, as a sign of his moderation. Angel demonstrated her moderate bona fides by saying she broke with the House Republicans 53 times on votes last session.


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Comments:

Posted Mon, Oct 21, 9:10 a.m. Inappropriate

Interesting that you decided to not mention the California billionaire who has spent millions to try to buy this race. Even the Seattle Times mentioned this fact (in passing).

http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2022030112_26thdistrictracexml.html

Posted Mon, Oct 21, 12:09 p.m. Inappropriate

"But Angel said passing bills is not the only measure of effectiveness."

Could that be because, after five years in the Legislature, she hasn't been able to pass a single bill of substance?

Ask her what she's actually accomplished as a state legislator, and you'll hear silence: mostly because she's got nothing to point to, but partly because she's put her own campaign into stealth mode, refusing to talk to the media ("As 26th campaign winds down, Angel silent to media requests" - Kitsap Sun, Oct 19).

Jan Angel recently ditched a candidate forum on the Key Peninsula, sending her campaign manager in her place, after which a flack from the WA State Republican Party has become her point-person, with Jan Angel MIA from her own campaign.

Of course, this is par for the course for this absentee legislator - she skipped a Special Session of the Legislature to take a European Cruise (http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2011/may/25/angel-went-on-cruise-during-special-session/#axzz2iNtrHFU9)

Posted Mon, Oct 21, 12:31 p.m. Inappropriate

John is not a journalist, but rather a writer of thinly disguised editorials that omit key lines of interest-especially if it lines up with CrossCut's liberal politics. In his Stalinist world, it is justified to avoid mention of a California billionaire's unabashed attempt to buy this seat for Doogie Hauser--I mean Nathan Schlicter. Crosscut is financed by a liberal political private equity fund after the blog failed a year ago. Incomprehensabily, it is still a ground for "journalists" who can't otherwise find gainful employment with the local socialist party.

daddison

Posted Mon, Oct 21, 12:36 p.m. Inappropriate

And Stainless_Steel_Isnt is obviously a staffer for Fuse Washington, the collection of wash outs from the now listless and irrelevant "Occupy" movement. These screaming little bastards follow the Senate Majority Caucus around the state demanding more favors and pensions for unions. Even though the unions have already forced Washington to mortgage its future for the benefit of union retirees. A bunch of nagging little babies screaming the politics of envy.

daddison

Posted Mon, Oct 21, 11:22 p.m. Inappropriate

The link to "who belong to alec" in this story is instead a link to an entity hostile to ALEC. Credible journalist would allow readers to find the legislators "who belong to ALEC" instead of a sneaky link to its enemies. This whole piece is merely a partisan attack piece. Shame on Stang, and on those who empower him!

simorgh

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