Two Democratic legislators, one from the House and one from the Senate, announced within hours of each other this morning that they’ve decided to run for statewide positions in 2012, enlarging the field of candidates who are seeking to make the jump to higher office in what promises to be fairly exciting year.
State Representative Zack Hudgins got out of the gate first, confirming that he has decided to launch a campaign for secretary of state, a position currently held by Republican Sam Reed. Reed is retiring after serving for several terms.
“I believe I bring the management experience and commitment to democracy needed to ensure the office of Secretary of State meets the highest standards,” Hudgins said in a statement. The five-term state representative presently serves as General Government Appropriations and Oversight Committee Chair.
His announcement notes that he has worked abroad helping people in other countries conduct elections, which is one the principal responsibilities of the secretary of state (and certainly the position’s most visible responsibility). To date, Hudgins’ work has taken him to Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, and Iraq.
“The greatest threat to our democracy is a corrupted election process and we must be ever vigilant to protect that process, regardless of our personal or party preferences,” Hudgins said. “My time spent in Iraq showed me how fragile and important democracy can be and helped me understand how to better promote and safeguard elections in our state.”
Also running for Secretary of State are State Senator Jim Kastama and Kathleen Drew (both Democrats), along with Thurston County Auditor Kim Wyman (a Republican). Hudgins’ entry in the race gives Democrats three credible candidates from which to choose for secretary of state.
Meanwhile, State Senator Craig Pridemore has decided to run for auditor, a position currently held by Brian Sonntag. In 2010, Pridemore briefly ran for Congress in WA-03, but ultimately backed out, choosing not to compete with Denny Heck in the winnowing election. He will have to give up his Senate seat to run for auditor.
“I’ll bring hands-on auditing experience, an eye for detail, and expertise in the functioning of state and local governments to this important office,” Pridemore said in a statement. “Retiring Auditor Sonntag professionalized the office and made it a watchdog for taxpayers. I’ll take it to the next level as a resource for long-term reform and efficiency in an era of diminishing revenues and needed restructuring.”
“There is a lot of talk about how to address tax exemptions and we need a fair way to assess both their costs, and their value to our economy and to taxpayers,” said Pridemore. “I’d like to make this discussion less partisan and special interest driven, and more objective and data driven. It’s a great role for an Auditor.”
State Representative Mark Miloscia is also vying to succeed Sonntag. He, like Pridemore, will have to give up his seat in the Legislature to run.
As many readers know, in 2008, we made coverage of downballot state executive races a priority here on The Advocate. We plan to continue that tradition in 2012 with a series focusing on the contests for secretary of state, auditor, lands commissioner, treasurer, insurance commissioner, superintendent of public instruction, and attorney general.