With about a month to go until Filing Week 2017, Senate Republicans have finally unveiled their recruit for the Washington State Senate in the battleground 45th District: Jinyoung Lee Englund, a former vice president of strategy for the Digital Currency Council who has been active in national Republican politics.
Englund is the second Republican candidate to declare for the Senate in the 45th, following Ken Smith, who announced a few weeks ago that he’s resigning from the Northshore School Board and moving into the 45th to run for the Senate.
Like Smith, Englund is brand new to the 45th and moved in from a neighboring district. Whereas Smith is moving in from the 46th, Englund relocated from the 48th.
Until recently, she was registered to vote in Bellevue with her spouse Geoffrey and family.
According to her campaign, she now resides in Woodinville, one of two cities located entirely within the 45th (the other is Duvall).
It is noteworthy that both of the Republicans running for the Senate in the 45th have just moved in from other districts, especially considering that Republicans attacked Matt Isenhower — Andy Hill’s 2014 Democratic challenger — for having moved into the district a few months before launching his candidacy.
(It didn’t matter to them that Isenhower actually grew up in the district and had returned there to raise his family after serving our country in the Navy.)
If Republicans think carpetbagging is bad, then why did they recruit Jinyoung Lee Englund to run for the Senate this year? Perhaps because they wanted a candidate who fit a particular profile, but they could not find a match with roots in the 45th. The Democratic Party has been busy uniting behind Manka Dhingra, a senior deputy prosecutor who administers the county’s therapeutic alternative justice unit.
Dhingra has already raised over $200,000 and recently secured the unanimous endorsement of the 45th District Democrats. She is also endorsed by Governor Jay Inslee, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, and State Representatives Larry Springer and Roger Goodman, who represent the district in the state House.
Englund is backed by Dino Rossi and Kathy Lambert as well as the Senate Republicans; both contributed quotes for her campaign press release.
The Democratic Party wasted no time in calling attention to Englund’s involvement in national Republican politics. (The 45th is a district that voted for Democratic candidates up and down the ballot last November.)
“There are many examples of Englund’s work as a partisan political operative — from Dino Rossi’s 2010 campaign for U.S. Senate, to working for Cathy McMorris Rodgers and the Heritage Foundation, to her service on the 2012 presumptive Romney/Ryan transition team, to an advisory role at the RNC, and more,” noted Alex Bond of the Washington State Democratic Party and Senate Democratic Campaign.
In her capacity as a member of the Republican National Committee’s Asian Pacific Americans advisory council, Englund was called upon by the Jeb Bush campaign in mid-2015 to defend Bush after he made racist, anti-immigrant remarks.
Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign pushed back Tuesday at accusations that he demeaned Asians while explaining his use of the controversial term “anchor babies.”
Bush had exposed himself to attack with an oblique reference to “birth tourism” during a Monday campaign swing through a Texas border town.
“What I was talking about was the specific case of fraud being committed, where there’s organized efforts — and frankly, it’s more related to Asian people,” Bush said.
Trump pounced, tweeting of Bush that “In a clumsy move to get out of his ‘anchor babies’ dilemma, where he signed that he would not use the term and now uses it, he blamed ASIANS.”
Both Trump and Bush have referred to kids born in the U.S. to illegal immigrants as “anchor babies,” although some consider it a slur.
After Asian-American lawmakers from the Democratic Party criticized Jeb Bush’s comments, Bush’s campaign sent out a statement from Englund:
“I’d like to see the Democratic Party focus more on the lives of the women and children at risk in some of these off-the-books and illegal ‘birth or maternity tourism’ situations instead of expending so much time, energy and money on trying malign Gov. Bush, someone who is married to a first generation immigrant and has a bicultural family, in this way,” Englund said.
Despite raising enormous sums of money, Bush’s campaign foundered in the 2016 Republican primaries after being brutally ridiculed on numerous occasions by eventual Republican nominee Donald Trump.
In predictable Republican form, Englund says that opposing Washington’s nonexistent state income tax will be a principal theme of her campaign, along with “grounding” vehicle fees approved by voters last year as part of Sound Transit 3. Beyond that, she hasn’t offered up anything except buzzwords and platitudes.
Republicans have long used the specter of an income tax in attempts to scare voters away from voting Democratic in legislative races, but such tactics failed last year in the 30th District, where Democrats knocked out two Republican incumbents (Teri Hickel and Linda Kochmar), narrowly preserving their House majority.
What Republicans don’t want to admit is that the only way Washington will end up with a state income tax in the future is if the people vote for one by approving an initiative or referendum. The Legislature couldn’t impose an income tax without a vote of the people even if it wanted to, because the powerful interests opposed to an income tax would finance a signature drive to force a public vote on the matter.
Republicans like talking about the specter of an income tax, because they’d rather not do anything to fix our upside down tax code, which unfairly requires low and middle income families to pay a larger percentage of their income in taxes than wealthy families. NPI research shows an overwhelming majority of Washington voters are hungry for progressive tax reform that requires the wealthy to pay more, including a capital gains excise tax, which Republicans ardently oppose.
Englund claims she wants to “increase school funding, improve policies for the developmentally disabled, reduce traffic congestion, and balance the state budget” — but has not said how she would accomplish any of that.
Investing in schools and transportation infrastructure costs money, and Senate Republicans have proposed a budget that would actually leave our schools with less money than they have now and raise property taxes in the 45th District, while giving tax cuts to large corporations that don’t need them.
At the same time, Senate Republicans want to sabotage Sound Transit’s funding so it can’t build the projects that regional voters approved.
Those aren’t the priorities of voters in the 45th District.
A recent poll conducted by NPI’s pollster Public Policy Polling on behalf of New Direction PAC found support for Manka Dhingra at 46%, while only 40% of respondents backed Dino Rossi. Rossi is not a candidate in the forthcoming special election, having consistently said he would not run, but at the time the poll was commissioned, Jinyoung Lee Englund had yet to announce.
Now that she has declared, there will undoubtedly be further polling commissioned to see how she matches up against Dhingra.
But Dhingra will not be her only opponent. As mentioned, fellow Republican and transplant Ken Smith has declared his candidacy, and independent Parker Harris is in the race too, along with Democratic activist Ian Stratton.
Englund will need to make a strong, fast impression with Republican voters to avoid the fate of Pedro Celis, the handpicked Republican challenger to U.S. Representative Suzan DelBene in 2014, who was nearly eliminated in the Top Two election three years ago. Celis’ campaign never recovered after that embarrassing stumble, and DelBene handily dispatched him despite a tough political climate for Democrats.