Jinyoung Lee Englund
Jinyoung Lee Englund (Photo courtesy of her campaign)

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.

Jinyoung Lee Englund
Jiny­oung Lee Englund (Pho­to cour­tesy of her campaign)

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.

From the Tues­day, August 25, 2015 edi­tion of the New York Dai­ly News:

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.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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