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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 15, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 42
Six political races to watch
Section One
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Six political races to watch

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

As Washington voters begin filling out their ballots this week, the stakes are high.

One of Washington's U.S. Senate seats is up for election, as are all nine of its U.S. House seats.

All 98 members of the state House are up for election, and 25 of the 49 state Senate seats.

A swing of seven state Senate seats and 13 state House seats would shift control of the legislature from the Democratic Party to the Republicans.

In addition, three state Supreme Court Justices are up for reelection. All of them voted against marriage equality in the Andersen case, but only one of them will have an opponent in the election.

According to King County Elections, general election ballots will be mailed to the state's voters starting October 13.

Thirty-eight of Washington's 39 counties now have all mail-in voting. Pierce County still maintains in-person poll sites.

To be counted, mail-in ballots must be postmarked on or before election day, November 2.

While all races are important, and many of them will be hotly contested, these six are especially important to the LGBT community's political future.

Patty Murray vs
Dino Rossi, U.S. Senate

Democratic incumbent Senator Patty Murray is the co-sponsor of a number of LGBT rights measures - including the Military Readiness Enhancement Act to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell, and ENDA (the Employment Non-Discrimination Act).

Murray also co-sponsored the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act in 2009, and has consistently voted to fund federal HIV/AIDS programs.

Her Republican opponent, Dino Rossi, says Don't Ask Don't Tell "seems to have been working," so he sees no need to repeal it. He has not yet revealed his position on ENDA or other pro-Gay legislation being considered by the Senate.

His record as a state senator might be instructive, however.

In the state senate, Rossi co-sponsored Washington state's DOMA in 1998.

He opposed both the Anderson-Murray Civil Rights bill and the state's domestic partnership laws, although he was already out of the legislature when these finally passed.

Rossi is also against reproductive choice.

The Seattle Gay News endorses Patty Murray.

Rick Larsen vs
John Koster,
2nd Congressional District

Incumbent Democrat Rick Larsen is facing a stiff challenge from Republican John Koster, former state Rep and current Snohomish County Council member.

Like Sen. Murray, Rep. Larsen has co-sponsored several key pieces of LGBT rights legislation being considered by Congress, including the Don't Ask Don't Tell repeal and ENDA.

Koster, on the other hand, has a long history of anti-Gay political activities.

Like Rossi on the Senate side, Koster was a co-sponsor of the state DOMA on the House side of the legislature.

As a Snohomish County Council member, Koster introduced a 2006 budget amendment to strike funding for a December holiday program because Seattle Men's Chorus was scheduled to perform there.

He also sponsored a resolution supporting a controversial Ten Commandments display installed on City of Everett property.

Like Rossi, Koster is also anti-choice. He believes that abortion should be illegal even in cases of rape, incest, or threat to the mother's life.

Koster's campaign manager is his long-time political ally Larry Stickney. Stickney was campaign manager for Protect Marriage Washington's Referendum 71 petition drive, to repeal the state's domestic partnership laws.

The Seattle Gay News endorses Rick Larsen.

Charlie Wiggins vs
Richard Sanders,
Washington Supreme Court

In the only Washington Supreme Court race that is still contested, attorney Charlie Wiggins faces incumbent Justice Richard Sanders.

While Wiggins believes the main opinion in the Andersen marriage equality case - written by now-Chief Justice Barbara Madsen - was "reasonable," he is sharply critical of the concurring opinion by Jim Johnson, which Sanders joined.

Madsen said that the state legislature enacted DOMA on the reasonable assumption that the state had an interest in protecting opposite-sex marriages.

Johnson and Sanders said flat out that the legislature was correct to deny same-sex couples equal marriage rights. They added that children benefit more from opposite-sex parents.

This view is "too extreme," Wiggins says, and illustrates Sanders' judicial bias.

Sanders also argued against LGBT rights in at least two other cases, both dissents, Wiggins says.

In Heinsma v City of Vancouver, Sanders said cities could not offer same-sex domestic partner benefits to their employees, and in Parentage of LB he said that non-birth parents of children of a same-sex couple were not entitled to visitation rights.

The Seattle Gay News endorses Charlie Wiggins.

Marko Liias vs
Elizabeth Scott,
21st District Position 2

Openly Gay Rep. Marko Liias earned high marks for HB 2801, the new anti-bullying bill he sponsored and shepherded through the legislature with unanimous votes in both House and Senate. Liias is also the sponsor of several other progressive measures, including one giving Washingtonians online access to consumer protection information.

He is running for reelection in a district that includes Mukilteo, Edmonds, and parts of Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace.

His opponent, Elizabeth Scott, is associated with the Tea Party and is endorsed by a number of anti-Gay political figures including John Koster, Val Stevens, Matt Shea, Kirby Wilbur, and Rev. Wayne Perryman. She told SGN she "supports existing state law" on LGBT rights, but she is on record as opposing the 2009 expansion of domestic partnership benefits. She also opposes marriage equality.

The Seattle Gay News endorses Marko Liias.

Laurie Jinkins vs
Jake Fey,
27th District Position 1

Laurie Jinkins, out Lesbian and a longtime activist, is running to represent s legislative district in Tacoma and Fife. A former assistant attorney general, she is now deputy director of the Pierce County Public Health District.

Jinkins chaired Tacoma's landmark Hate Crimes Task Force, and co-chaired the successful Approve Referendum 71 campaign that saved the state's domestic partnership laws.

Because of Washington's top-two primary system, Jinkins is running against another Democrat, Tacoma City Council member Jake Fey. By all accounts, Fay has been an excellent city council member. Jinkins says she differs from him mainly in having broader political experience and more diverse support.

The Seattle Gay News endorses Laurie Jinkins.

Donna Tucker vs
Larry Mitchell,
King County
Northeast District Court

Attorney and pro tem judge Donna Tucker is an out Lesbian running for a permanent seat on the bench.

District court judges are the ones most people would encounter - trying DUIs, reckless driving, domestic violence, small-value theft, and civil cases with values under $75,000.

Tucker has been rated "Exceptionally Well Qualified" by the King County Bar association, the Latino/a Bar Association, and QLaw - the LGBT Barr Association.

Her opponent is Redmond Prosecutor Larry Mitchell. He has been endorsed by Republican King County Council members Reagan Dunn and Jane Hague.

The Seattle Gay News endorses Donna Tucker.

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