Hilary Franz confirmed today that she’s pulling the plug on her six-month old gubernatorial campaign in favor of launching a bid for Congress. The two-term Commissioner of Public Lands is now running to succeed outgoing United States Representative Derek Kilmer in the 6th Congressional District with his support and that of a number of other local leaders in Pierce and Kitsap counties.
“I’ve talked to voters in every corner of Washington and heard the same concerns – rising prices for necessities like housing pushing families out of the middle class, protecting reproductive freedom and women’s rights, safeguarding our democracy, supporting our veterans and military families, and the climate crisis bearing down on us,” Franz said in a prepared statement. “The challenges we face extend beyond the borders of Washington, and so must our solutions.”
“I am running for Congress to bring my vision for bold, transformative action to our nation’s capital and keep fighting for families across our region.”
Franz’s updated website, hilaryfranz.com, has the same hero image of Franz and nearly the same campaign logo as before, but it now reads “Hilary Franz for Congress” instead of “Hilary Franz for Governor.”
Franz’s endorsements at launch include:
- U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer, WA-06
- Mayor of Tacoma Victoria Woodards
- Kitsap County Commissioner Christine Rolfes
- Tacoma Port Commissioner Kristin Ang
- Tacoma City Councilmember Olgy Diaz
- Poulsbo Mayor Becky Erickson
- Aberdeen Mayor Pete Schave
- Representative Mike Chapman, 24th Legislative District
- Pierce County Councilmember Ryan Mello
- Poulsbo City Councilmember Ed Stern
As of press time, Franz’s campaign paperwork had not yet landed at the Federal Elections Commission (NPI staff searched the fec.gov to check). It assuredly will soon. Franz is already accepting donations for her congressional bid with ActBlue.
Franz began her public service on the Bainbridge Island City Council many years ago and has roots in the district. (Bainbridge, Governor Jay Inslee’s beloved home, was once part of Washington’s 1st, but nowadays it’s in the 6th.)
Franz has a home in Magnolia, a neighborhood in Seattle, and had been registered to vote there, but says she now resides in Grays Harbor County.
That’s one of the rural coastal counties that has historically backed Democrats, but has begun voting for Republicans in recent years. It includes communities like Aberdeen, Hoquiam, Cosmopolis, Ocean Shores, and Westport.
Democratic Washington State Senator Emily Randall is also contemplating a run. Randall just got reelected to a four year term last year and could campaign for the U.S. House without giving up her seat in the state Senate.
On the Republican side, State Senator Drew MacEwen is interested. He’s in the same boat as Randall, having just been elected to a four-year term, and can run for the House without jeopardizing his seat in the Legislature.
Franz’s decision to get out of the gubernatorial race and run for Congress winnows the Democratic field down to two candidates: Attorney General Bob Ferguson (the frontrunner) and State Senator Mark Mullet. Mullet is giving up his Senate seat to run because it comes up in presidential years.
It remains to be seen where Franz’s gubernatorial endorsers will land. It’s not inconceivable that Ferguson and Mullet will split them. But a lot of key names have already lined up behind Ferguson, passing over Mullet. Even before this week’s developments, Ferguson had received the support of Governor Jay Inslee, King County Executive Dow Constantine, and U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell.
Franz now has the opportunity to pursue Ferguson endorsers for her congressional campaign, adding to the support she’s already announced, which notably includes Kilmer. If she and Ferguson are successful in the Top Two, they will be on the 2024 ticket together, just as they were in 2020 and 2016 when they ran for downballot positions in Washington’s executive department.
Republicans have their own set of rival gubernatorial candidates who are raising serious money and collecting endorsements: Semi Bird and Dave Reichert.
Bird, an unapologetic ultra MAGA candidate, was recently recalled from his perch on the Richland School Board. Reichert is a former congressman who considered running for governor against Jay Inslee in 2016 and 2020, but passed both times.
If Franz (or Randall) win and no other incumbent members of Congress lose in 2024, Washington’s congressional delegation would become three-fourths female as of the beginning of the next Congress. Take a look (existing members of Congress who identify as female are listed in boldface along with Franz/Randall):
- Suzan DelBene
- Rick Larsen
- Marie Gluesenkamp Perez
- Dan Newhouse
- Cathy McMorris Rodgers
- Derek Kilmer > Hilary Franz or Emily Randall
- Pramila Jayapal
- Kim Schrier
- Adam Smith
- Marilyn Strickland
- Maria Cantwell
- Patty Murray
The 6th had a Cook Partisan Voting Index of D+6, meaning the district recently performed an average of six points more Democratic than the nation as a whole.
The 6th was for many years represented by the legendary Norm Dicks before he retired. Republicans notably failed to pick it up in the “Republican Revolution” of 1994 or in 2010, and it isn’t a district that we think will be a good pickup opportunity for them. It includes many places that reliably vote for Democrats in top of the ticket races, including Kitsap County and portions of Pierce County.
While State Republican Party Chair Jim Walsh might see an opportunity in Kilmer’s retirement to target the district, national Republicans are likely to remain more interested in WA-03, which is now represented by Marie Gluesenkamp Perez.