One Saturday this summer, 11 Republican legislators descended on Federal Way, simultaneously doorbelling for House GOP candidate Teri Hickel. Reps. Larry Haler of Richland and Matt Manweller of Ellensburg drove across the Cascades that hot day to join the group.
A few weeks later, Hickel’s campaign got another boost, a new manager — Keith Schipper. In 2014, Schipper ran Republican Mark Miloscia’s successful campaign to become the state senator in the same district, the 30th Legislative District. Since a Democrat had held the seat before, that campaign bumped the GOP’s razor-thin 25-24 advantage in the Washington Senate up to 26-23.
In this November’s special 30th District election, the minority GOP hopes a victory by Hickel will narrow its gap in the Washington House from 51-47 to 50-48. A Hickel victory over Democratic incumbent Carol Gregory would mean that the House Democratic caucus will need every single vote to pass any controversial bills in next year's session of the Legislature.
And a 50-48 split would put control of the House within easy GOP grasp in the November 2016 elections.
“This is going to be hard,” said Gregory, who has held her seat for slightly more than eight months.
Gregory, 71, of Federal Way is a classic pro-labor Democrat. Hickel, 55, also of Federal Way is a classic pro-business Republican. In the Aug. 4 primary, Hickel tallied 7,982 votes for a 51.7 percent showing. Gregory captured 7,446 votes for a 48.3 percent showing.