Mullet joins fellow Democrats Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz, who earlier this month announced they were each exploring a run. Those two statewide elected officials mulled running for governor in 2020, before Gov. Jay Inslee opted to run for a third term, and have long been seen as potential frontrunners in the Democratic-leaning state.
In a video announcing his candidacy and a news release, Mullet vowed to focus on tackling affordable housing, creating safer neighborhoods and continuing work to stop climate change.
“Too many families can’t afford, even on good salaries, the rising cost of living," Mullet said in prepared remarks. "Too many families are worried about the direction of public safety in our state, which is why we need different leadership in Olympia.”
It remains to be seen whether Mullet can gain traction, but he occupies an interesting niche in the political space. An owner of a pizza shop and ice-cream stores, Mullet has steadily fallen out of favor inside his party as Democrats in recent years solidified control of the Legislature and moved to the left politically.
First elected in 2012, Mullet beat back a strong Republican challenger in 2016 for his seat in King County’s 5th Legislative District, which at the time was one of the state’s most contested swing districts. In 2020, Mullet then faced a progressive challenger – backed by Inslee and other fellow Democrats – to just barely eke out a win.
Also exploring bids ahead of next year’s candidate filing period are at least two Republicans. One is Raul Garcia, an emergency physician and moderate from the Tri-Cities area, who ran briefly and unsuccessfully in the August 2020 primary for governor. Garcia joins Semi Bird, a veteran and Richland School Board member facing a recall vote this August.
The primary election will be in August 2024, with the top two vote-getters regardless of party advancing to the November general election.