Prospective State Senate candidate Ingrid Anderson
Prospective State Senate candidate Ingrid Anderson (Campaign photo)

The effort to bring more pro­gres­sive rep­re­sen­ta­tion to Wash­ing­ton State’s 5th Leg­isla­tive Dis­trict (Issaquah, Sno­qualmie, Maple Val­ley, and near­by com­mu­ni­ties) just got a big boost today with the news that Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee is back­ing chal­lenger Ingrid Ander­son over right lean­ing incum­bent Mark Mul­let for the dis­tric­t’s Sen­ate seat, which Mul­let has held for almost eight years.

“As we con­tin­ue fight­ing a glob­al pan­dem­ic, work to keep our kids and com­mu­ni­ties safe, and take steps to ensure a strong future econ­o­my, we need Ingrid’s front­line expe­ri­ence as a nurse, mom, and health care leader,” Gov­er­nor Inslee said in a state­ment released by Ander­son­’s cam­paign. “Right now, there is not a sin­gle nurse in the State Sen­ate. We can change that by elect­ing Ingrid and help­ing all Wash­ing­ton fam­i­lies through this chal­leng­ing time.”

With­out men­tion­ing Mul­let, Inslee went on to explain that he needs allies in the Leg­is­la­ture to ensure that pro­gres­sive leg­is­la­tion can reach his desk.

“I’ve been clear about the urgent need to adopt clean­er fuels and build a clean ener­gy econ­o­my here in Wash­ing­ton State. Ingrid shares this sense of urgency, as a mat­ter of pub­lic health and envi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion. We need her voice – and her vote – to take over­due action to pro­tect our health and climate.”

“I am so grate­ful for the sup­port of Gov­er­nor Inslee as we enter the home stretch of this cam­paign,” Ander­son said. “We face some real chal­lenges in the com­ing year as we recov­er from this pan­dem­ic, and once treat­ments are avail­able, we will need health care pro­fes­sion­als in office to make sure we enact equi­table poli­cies that ben­e­fit all Wash­ing­to­ni­ans. We also have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to reshape our econ­o­my and make it more fair, sus­tain­able, and self-reliant. I look for­ward to work­ing with the Gov­er­nor to make need­ed pos­i­tive change.”

“I am dis­ap­point­ed but not sur­prised by a call I received from the Gov­er­nor this week­end let­ting me know that he would be endors­ing my oppo­nent,” Mul­let said in a state­ment post­ed on Face­book react­ing to Inslee’s deci­sion.

“I respect that the Gov­er­nor called to tell me this news in-per­son. Cour­tesy is an admirable thing in pol­i­tics and severe­ly lack­ing in our coun­try at the moment. In the future, I look for­ward to work­ing with the Gov­er­nor when we agree and hav­ing a vig­or­ous debate on the issues when we dis­agree. My hope for the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty is that it can be a place that accom­mo­dates dif­fer­ent opin­ions like this.”

At the time Mark Mul­let was first elect­ed, in 2012, the 5th LD was a tough bat­tle­ground dis­trict that Democ­rats were try­ing to do a bet­ter job com­pet­ing in.

Mul­let’s vic­to­ry then rep­re­sent­ed a break­through for the party.

It’s easy to for­get that for two years, Mul­let was the East­side’s only Demo­c­ra­t­ic sen­a­tor, with the 45th’s seat being held by Repub­li­can Andy Hill, the 48th’s seat being held by Repub­li­can-turned-Demo­c­rat-turned-Repub­li­can again Rod­ney Tom, and the 41st’s seat being held by Repub­li­can Steve Litzow.

In the span of three years, how­ev­er, the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty elect­ed three very pro­gres­sive sen­a­tors to each of the oth­er East­side leg­isla­tive districts:

  • Cyrus Habib in 2014 in the 48th, who defeat­ed Michelle Dar­nell and served for two ses­sions before leav­ing to suc­cess­ful­ly pur­sue statewide office;
  • Lisa Well­man in 2016 in the 41st, who defeat­ed Lit­zow to regain the seat once held by pre­de­ces­sors Randy Gor­don and Bri­an Weinstein;
  • Man­ka Dhin­gra in 2017 in the 45th, who defeat­ed Jiny­oung Englund in a spe­cial elec­tion and flipped the State Sen­ate Demo­c­ra­t­ic. Dhin­gra suc­ceed­ed Dino Rossi, the late Andy Hill’s appoint­ed replacement.

Pro­gres­sive cham­pi­on Pat­ty Kud­er­er suc­ceed­ed Habib after he became Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor in 2017 and thor­ough­ly best­ed Rod­ney Tom the fol­low­ing year (2018) when Tom unwise­ly tried to recap­ture the seat he had giv­en up in 2014.

The suc­ces­sive elec­tion of three strong pro­gres­sive women to the Wash­ing­ton State Sen­ate from the East­side of King Coun­ty’s oth­er three leg­isla­tive dis­tricts ought to have tipped Mark Mul­let off to the region’s chang­ing polit­i­cal dynamics.

In the span of four years, Mul­let went from being its only Demo­c­ra­t­ic sen­a­tor and its most pro­gres­sive voice (in rel­a­tive terms) to its least progressive.

Any lin­ger­ing doubts about the East­side’s trans­for­ma­tion into a pro­gres­sive bas­tion ought to have been erased by the con­vinc­ing vic­to­ries of Bill Ramos and Lisa Callan in the dis­tric­t’s two House races in the 2018 midterms.

The duo sailed into the House only two years after Dar­cy Burn­er and Jason Ritchie failed to defeat Paul Graves and Jay Rodne. This year, Callan is unop­posed for reelec­tion and Ramos is excep­tion­al­ly well posi­tioned to secure a sec­ond term, hav­ing gar­nered 59.07% in the Top Two elec­tion against two challengers.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, instead of rec­og­niz­ing that his dis­trict had evolved and pro­ceed­ing to offer it more pro­gres­sive rep­re­sen­ta­tion, which he could have eas­i­ly done, Mul­let con­tin­ued to take right wing posi­tions and votes in the Senate.

A few examples:

  • Mul­let has con­sis­tent­ly refused to sup­port pro­pos­als to levy a cap­i­tal gains tax on the wealthy, which NPI’s research has found robust majori­ties in favor of for more than half a decade now.
  • Mul­let vot­ed against enact­ing Ini­tia­tive 1000, the Wash­ing­ton State Diver­si­ty, Equi­ty, and Inclu­sion Act, while every sin­gle one of his Demo­c­ra­t­ic col­leagues vot­ed for it, includ­ing his seat­mates Ramos and Callan.
  • Mul­let has repeat­ed­ly backed pro­pos­als to divert pub­lic tax dol­lars to char­ter schools oper­at­ed by pri­vate entities.

Ander­son­’s cam­paign points out that Mul­let also:

  • Vot­ed against address­ing wage dis­crim­i­na­tion for women in the work­place (House Bill 1696);
  • Vot­ed against Washington’s land­mark long-term care law sup­port­ing seniors (House Bill 1087);
  • Vot­ed to extend favor­able aero­space tax give­aways to all man­u­fac­tur­ers (ESHB 1109, Amend­ment 489);
  • Vot­ed against a bill to pre­vent tox­ic chem­i­cals from dam­ag­ing pub­lic health and the envi­ron­ment (Sen­ate Bill 5135);
  • Vot­ed against an over­whelm­ing­ly bipar­ti­san bill to increase penal­ties on drunk dri­vers (Sen­ate Bill 5299)
  • Vot­ed against the oper­at­ing bud­get nego­ti­at­ed by Demo­c­ra­t­ic lead­ers, includ­ing mil­lions of in-dis­trict dol­lars for spe­cial edu­ca­tion, teacher salaries, school safe­ty, men­tal health pro­grams, and more (House Bill 1109).

In a recent Face­book post, Mul­let took a page out of the Repub­li­cans’ play­book and resort­ed to Seat­tle-bash­ing in order to make the case for his reelection.

Mul­let has made it abun­dant­ly clear that he’s not going to change, even though the dis­trict he rep­re­sents has. As a con­se­quence, Ingrid Ander­son decid­ed to chal­lenge him, and is run­ning on a plat­form that embraces the essen­tial pro­gres­sive caus­es that Mul­let has scorned dur­ing his eight years in the Senate.

Despite not hav­ing run for office before, Ander­son beat out Mul­let for the top spot in this mon­th’s Top Two elec­tion, secur­ing 48.57% of the vote. That show­ing undoubt­ed­ly helped per­suade Gov­er­nor Inslee to take sides in the race.

Ander­son already had the enthu­si­as­tic back­ing of the state’s labor move­ment, who have nev­er been able to depend on Mul­let when they need­ed him.

Now she has the sup­port of Gov­er­nor Inslee, the Wash­ing­ton State Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty’s most vis­i­ble stan­dard bear­er. This is a big deal.

It’s very rare for an incum­bent Demo­c­ra­t­ic gov­er­nor to back a chal­lenger to an incum­bent Demo­c­ra­t­ic leg­is­la­tor. It’s just not some­thing we usu­al­ly see.

But the cir­cum­stances in this race are some­what unique. Democ­rats are guar­an­teed to win this seat because there’s no Repub­li­can running.

The only ques­tion, then, is what kind of Demo­c­rat the dis­trict will send to Olympia. Will it be an open-mind­ed team play­er who will pro­vide anoth­er vote for bad­ly need­ed pro­gres­sive leg­is­la­tion, or a long­time incum­bent with a record of stand­ing with the oppo­si­tion to keep the bro­ken sta­tus quo in place?

We’ll find out in a few weeks.

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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2 replies on “Governor Inslee endorses Ingrid Anderson over incumbent Mark Mullet in 5th LD race”

  1. I dis­agree and like how Mul­let has been an inde­pen­dent voice in the leg­is­la­ture. As you prob­a­bly can see, the 5th is now a swing dis­trict where results will fol­low the trends. My think­ing is that Mul­let can with­stand the red tide that can come along in the midterm of a Demo­c­ra­t­ic admin­is­tra­tion and can ben­e­fit from a great blue tide.

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