Futurewise Executive Director Hilary Franz appears to have earned a spot on the November general election ballot as the Democrat with the most support for Commissioner of Public Lands. She’s currently ahead of four other Democratic candidates — King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove, former Spokane Mayor Mary Verner, Karen Porterfield, and John Stillings.
Republican Steve McLaughlin is in first place with 39% of the vote, having not had any other Republicans to split the vote with.
How they fared: Candidates competing for Commissioner of Public Lands
- Steve McLaughlin, Republican: 39.12%, 293,190 votes
- Hilary Franz, Democrat: 20.83%, 156,112 votes
- Dave Upthegrove, Democrat: 13.53%, 101,396 votes
- Mary Verner, Democrat: 12.85%; 96,345 votes
- Karen Porterfield, Democrat: 5.13%; 38,472 votes
- Steven Nielson: 4.68%; 35,096 votes
- John Stillings, Democrat: 3.85%; 28,878 votes
Upthegrove and Verner are well behind Franz, so it’s unlikely they have a chance of becoming competitive for second place. In her campaign, Franz enjoyed the support of the Women’s Political Caucus and NARAL. Each bestowed a sole endorsement on her, which undoubtedly helped her candidacy. She also benefited from independent expenditures intended to bolster her name recognition.
Local Democratic party organizations typically opted to back Franz and Upthegrove, or just one of the two, if they made an endorsement at all.
In the general election, Franz will have no Democratic rivals, so she should be able to consolidate the Democratic vote behind her candidacy. Democrats captured the office of Commissioner of Public Lands eight years ago with Peter Goldmark, who defeated entrenched Republican incumbent Doug Sutherland.
At summer parades, Franz and her dedicated supporters have been marching to the catchy chant of “Hilary Franz for Public Lands!”
A graduate of Smith College and Northeastern University Law School, Franz served for three years as a Bainbridge Island city councilmember.
She sat on the Puget Sound Regional Council Growth Management Board, the Puget Sound Regional Council Economic Development District Board, the Puget Sound Salmon Recovery Council, and the Puget Sound Transportation Futures Task Force. She was appointed by Governor Gregoire to Washington State’s Climate Action Team IWG on the State Environmental Policy Act. She has served on numerous boards, including Conservation Northwest, the Washington Environmental Council, the Center for Environmental Law and Policy, and Friends of the Farms.
Franz was able to edge out Upthegrove by winning a plurality of the vote in King County (32.58%) and also besting her Democratic rivals in Pierce County and Snohomish County, which together are the state’s largest counties.
Upthegrove is ahead of Franz in Thurston County, while Verner is unsurprisingly ahead of Franz in Spokane County, where she’s from. Whatcom, Whitman, and Yakima favored Franz over the other Democrats, as did Clark.
POSTSCRIPT: Upthegrove has gracefully conceded.
Just got off the phone with Hilary Franz to congratulate her on advancing to the general election along with the Republican in the Lands Commissioner race. If she runs the agency with even half the passion and energy that she brought to her campaign, the state will be in great hands. Let’s all now help make sure she makes it all the way in November. I get to take a vacation and return to a job I love. Thank you to everyone who supported me!
Dave — it was an honor to run with you. You are a class act. We raised critical awareness in this campaign of the importance of this office and the issues we face regarding addressing climate change and ensuring a healthy environment and strong local economies for present and future generations. Thank you for who you are and what you stand for and how you have worked tirelessly for the people of Washington state.
A classy way for both leading Democratic candidates to end this contest.