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

Over the course of the next few months, Sen­ate Repub­li­cans and their finan­cial back­ers will be spend­ing a for­tune des­per­ate­ly try­ing to save their major­i­ty by attempt­ing to whip up anti-tax fer­vor in Wash­ing­ton’s 45th Dis­trict, where they must win in Novem­ber or else be forced to hand over pow­er to the Democrats.

Sen­ate Repub­li­cans are gam­bling they can pre­vail in the spe­cial elec­tion with Jiny­oung Lee Englund, a thir­ty-two year old Repub­li­can oper­a­tive who only moved into the dis­trict a week pri­or to announc­ing her can­di­da­cy. Repub­li­cans have instruct­ed Englund to run hard against tax­es and posi­tion her­self as opposed to “Seat­tle style politi­cians” — what­ev­er that’s sup­posed to mean.

Englund has hewed to those instruc­tions in her social media post­ings and paid adver­tise­ments. But, in an appear­ance this week on Dori Mon­son’s show on KIRO, she was asked by her sym­pa­thet­ic host how she is going to respond when Democ­rats come after her as a sup­port­er of Don­ald Trump.

At first, Englund deflect­ed the ques­tion by declar­ing that the East­side is home to vot­ers who are inde­pen­dent thinkers, but when pressed by Dori Mon­son to respond (“How do you feel about the Pres­i­dent, since they’re going to try so might­i­ly to tie you to him?” Mon­son asked), she went off script and said:

JINYOUNG LEE ENGLUND: Yeah. Absolute­ly. Well, he is our pres­i­dent. And I don’t know if a lot of peo­ple know, but my hus­band, he’s an active duty Marine. And Pres­i­dent Trump is his Com­man­der in Chief. And I was always taught, you know, you respect your elders, and you respect the peo­ple who are in lead­er­ship. And I real­ly respect the way that Pres­i­dent Trump and his admin­is­tra­tion… they’re for a strong mil­i­tary, and they’re also for mil­i­tary families.

It’s hard to imag­ine these com­ments being received well in the 45th Dis­trict, which over­whelm­ing­ly vot­ed for Hillary Clin­ton last Novem­ber. The last thing most vot­ers around here want is a sen­a­tor who admires Don­ald Trump.

Englund could have respond­ed to Dori Mon­son’s ques­tion by say­ing she does­n’t like how Trump treats peo­ple of col­or, Mus­lims, or Amer­i­cans with disabilities.

She could have talked about how, as a woman, she finds Trump’s hor­rif­ic, degrad­ing views towards women offen­sive and repulsive.

She could have said she’s proud of Wash­ing­ton State for chal­leng­ing Trump’s many over­reach­es — like his uncon­sti­tu­tion­al exec­u­tive orders.

But she did­n’t say any of those things, because she is not the inde­pen­dent thinker she claims to be. She is a loy­al sol­dier for her par­ty, and like Susan Hutchi­son, she has ful­ly embraced Don­ald Trump and Don­ald Trump’s destruc­tive, tox­ic politics.

In the span of thir­ty sec­onds, she gave the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty exact­ly the sound bite that it was look­ing for. Now, at any point down the road, if any­one com­plains that Democ­rats are being unfair to Englund by try­ing to tie her to Trump, they can sim­ply play back the audio from this inter­view with Dori Monson.

It’s quite evi­dent from Englund’s answer that she has ful­ly accept­ed Trump as the leader of her par­ty and the leader of her coun­try, unlike the dis­trict she seeks to rep­re­sent. She has bought into the Trump mythos — she’s a true believer.

Again, it’s hard to imag­ine these com­ments being received well in the 45th.

The 45th has been con­sid­ered to be a swing dis­trict for many cycles, but it is now on the verge of becom­ing a Demo­c­ra­t­ic dis­trict like its neigh­bor to the west (the 48th), where Repub­li­cans don’t even both­er to recruit can­di­dates for the Leg­is­la­ture any­more. Repub­li­cans know the 45th is chang­ing, demo­graph­i­cal­ly and polit­i­cal­ly, and that it could soon cease to be a dis­trict where they can win.

They are des­per­ate to cling to pow­er. And while win­ning is what mat­ters to them most, they’d pre­fer a suc­ces­sor to Rossi who is depend­able. Some­one who can be count­ed on to sup­ply a vote in any sit­u­a­tion. Some­one who will hap­pi­ly con­tin­ue the grand old East­side Repub­li­can tra­di­tion of enabling extremism.

They’ve bet the farm, so to speak, on Englund, a mil­len­ni­al can­di­date who is mak­ing her first run for office. Englund is a pro­tege of Dino Rossi, who served two terms in the Wash­ing­ton State Sen­ate from the neigh­bor­ing 5th Dis­trict pri­or to mak­ing three failed bids for statewide office (in 2004, 2008, and 2010).

In the last ten years, only one Repub­li­can can­di­date for the Leg­is­la­ture has won in the 45th: Andy Hill, who died last year and has been suc­ceed­ed by Rossi. Both of Hill’s win­ning cam­paigns came in years where Repub­li­cans enjoyed a nice tail­wind (2010 and 2014). They’re not going to have such a tail­wind this year.

And while Englund will not lack access to mon­ey (Rossi and Sen­ate Repub­li­cans will see to it that her cam­paign cof­fers are flush with cash), she does not have Andy Hill’s com­mu­ni­ty ties or roots in the dis­trict. Hill was a com­mit­ted parish­ioner of St. Jude Catholic Church in Red­mond and an active coach and par­ent in the Lake Wash­ing­ton Youth Soc­cer Asso­ci­a­tion. Englund is an unknown.

Englund’s lack of famil­iar­i­ty with the dis­trict was on dis­play ear­li­er in the inter­view with Mon­son, when she amus­ing­ly described her entry into the race as hav­ing been prompt­ed by Dino Rossi’s deci­sion “not to run again”.

Englund either does­n’t know or for­got that Rossi is only an appoint­ed sen­a­tor — vot­ers in the 45th nev­er sent him to Olympia to rep­re­sent them.

Rossi is in the Sen­ate because he was nom­i­nat­ed by the King Coun­ty Repub­li­can Cen­tral Com­mit­tee and appoint­ed by the King Coun­ty Coun­cil to rep­re­sent the 45th Dis­trict until an elec­tion could be held to fill the vacan­cy caused by Hill’s death.

Rossi has said from the out­set he would only serve as a care­tak­er and would not be a can­di­date in the spe­cial elec­tion this year.

Rossi got the nod over the two oth­er Repub­li­cans nom­i­nat­ed in part because of his Sen­ate “expe­ri­ence”. As not­ed, he rep­re­sent­ed the neigh­bor­ing 5th Leg­isla­tive Dis­trict in the Sen­ate from 1997 until 2004, when he lived there.

Rossi vacat­ed his Sen­ate seat in 2004 to run for gov­er­nor… twice. After fail­ing to defeat Chris Gre­goire, he chal­lenged Pat­ty Mur­ray, and lost again.

Rossi briefly went back into the Sen­ate in 2012 as an appointee, tak­ing the place of his own suc­ces­sor Cheryl Pflug fol­low­ing her res­ig­na­tion five years ago.

Lat­er that year, vot­ers elect­ed Demo­c­rat Mark Mul­let as their next Sen­a­tor, and Mul­let has held the posi­tion ever since. Rossi is once again an appoint­ed Sen­a­tor owing to the trag­ic death of Andy Hill, only this time in a dif­fer­ent district.

In less than six months, Rossi could again find him­self mak­ing way for a ris­ing Demo­c­ra­t­ic star. If vot­ers in the 45th elect Man­ka Dhin­gra to be their next sen­a­tor,  and if vot­ers in the 48th send Pat­ty Kud­er­er back to the Sen­ate the East­side would have a quar­tet of Demo­cat­ic sen­a­tors for the first time in his­to­ry — and three of them would be women.

Vot­ers in the 41st last year opt­ed to dump Repub­li­can incum­bent Steve Lit­zow in favor of Demo­c­ra­t­ic chal­lenger Lisa Well­man, even though Lit­zow went to every extent pos­si­ble to paint him­self as an anti-Trump, rea­son­able Repub­li­can who gets along great with Democ­rats. Lit­zow spent enor­mous sums try­ing to hold his seat, and even cre­at­ed fly­ers imply­ing he was sup­port­ed by Demo­c­ra­t­ic rep­re­sen­ta­tives Judy Clib­born and Tana Senn. It did­n’t work. He went down to defeat.

Democ­rats have once again coa­lesced behind a promis­ing woman can­di­date in their quest for a Sen­ate major­i­ty, and Repub­li­cans have respond­ed by mak­ing a big, bold, bet on Jiny­oung Lee Englund. It’s hard to fath­om how Englund is going to suc­ceed where Lit­zow could­n’t, con­sid­er­ing she’s an avowed sup­port­er of Don­ald Trump and has no con­nec­tion to vot­ers in the 45th.

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.

Adjacent posts

One reply on “45th LD Republican candidate Jinyoung Lee Englund backs Trump: “He is our president””

Comments are closed.