Offering daily news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Parker Harris backs Manka Dhingra; calls Republican Jinyoung Englund a “façade”

Two weeks ago, independent Parker Harris was officially eliminated as a candidate for the Washington State Senate when the results of the 2017 Top Two election were certified by King County. Now, Harris is throwing his support behind Manka Dhingra, saying he thinks she’s the best choice for the district in November.

He writes:

I believe we can win an independent campaign with a shoestring budget. I started all alone and, four months later, ended with 7% of the vote. If we begin the next campaign earlier and with a team of supporters (all of you) already in place, we can win.

We don’t need a party or a huge budget. We just need the right message, and with your help we can spread it far beyond 7%.

For what it’s worth, I intend to vote for Manka Dhingra in November. I have my doubts that her election will improve party politics or reduce the influence of big money, but I believe she cares deeply about people, has many years of useful experience, and is willing to work hard. So far I have seen zero indication that Jinyoug Englund is anything more than a façade who will do whatever the Republican caucus asks of her.

Of course, these are my own opinions. I urge you to do your own research and make your own decision.

Harris is correct that it’s possible to win election to public office running as an independent without a party or a big budget. But independents rarely win.

The reason our country has political parties is because it’s much easier to influence and win elections by teaming together with like-minded citizens.

A truly independent candidate is a candidate who does not associate with a party or other political groups; therefore, they cannot enjoy any of the advantages that candidates aligned with a party or a faction have. They have to build their own campaigns entirely from scratch. As Harris discovered, that’s not so easily done.

Harris’ perspective on his rivals is noteworthy, considering that he is not aligned with either of the major parties or their funders.

Harris’ views mirror sentiments we’ve seen in letters to the editor from voters who’ve concluded Manka Dhingra is an authentic candidate they can relate to, whereas Englund is just a loyal Republican Party recruit who is seeking office to keep Mark Schoesler and his caucus in power for another year.

Here’s an example. This letter ran a few weeks ago in the Redmond Reporter:

Continued stagnation is not an option
Thursday, Jun 8th, 2017 | 2:10 PM

As an Independent in the 45th Legislative District who voted for Sen. Andy Hill, Jinyoung Lee Englund misses the mark for me in substance.

Seattle has salt water backing up the outflow pipes, 122-year record-breaking rainfall events are washing out our roads and bringing down mudslides and we are actively starting to armor the coastline. King County is building flood pads for local farmers and the Port of Seattle and utility companies are setting new construction four feet higher, as yearly temperature averages continue to rise.

Seeing candidates move into our district, with ties to misinformation groups like the Heritage Foundation and partisan climate skeptics in the Legislature, means we need to know exactly where they stand on the issues prior to electing them.

What are Englund’s bipartisan thoughts around funding our schools, if not via an income tax or capital-gains tax? What is her favored air pollution reduction plan — carbon tax, carbon fee or cap and trade? Solar jobs are soaring in our state, does she propose following the administration’s lead in suppressing these industries here?

Continued stagnation is not an option if we truly plan to support and protect our children, jobs and our industries in Washington’s 45th.

Rachel Molloy

Republicans made a big, bold bet when they decided to recruit Englund to be their standard bearer… a bet that so far hasn’t paid off.

Hoping to de-nationalize the contest and counter the negative effect of Donald Trump, Republican operatives crafted a Tim Eyman-approved campaign platform for Englund: one devoid of substance but heavy on repetitive anti-tax rhetoric.

To their dismay, it didn’t work. Englund finished ten points behind Dhingra in the Top Two election. Dhingra garnered an outright majority of votes and would be in office already under the rules in use in states like Georgia or Louisiana, where runoffs only take place if no candidate receives a majority of the vote.

At the time they decided to go with Englund — who had to change her voter registration to officially become a resident of the district a week before announcing — Dhingra had already been in the race for several weeks, and Democrats had wasted no time coalescing around her candidacy after State Representatives Larry Springer and Roger Goodman confirmed they would not be candidates.

Meanwhile, Northshore School Board member Ken Smith (also a nonresident) had decided to enter the race as a Republican without the blessing of the party establishment. He unceremoniously exited the race a few weeks later after party brass went to work attempting to clear obstacles for their handpicked recruit.

Authenticity matters in politics, and Dhingra has it in spades.

She connects well with voters, knows the communities she wants to represent, and has a good grasp of the issues. She’s been enthusiastically embraced by the Democratic Party, to be sure, but she decided to run of her own accord. Englund, on the other hand, was recruited as a foil to her candidacy.

Voters seemed to have picked up on these circumstances and taken them into account, repulsing repeated and desperate Republican attempts to smear Dhingra with a load of shameful falsehoods and innuendo.