Hilary Franz and Emily Randall
Hilary Franz (top) and Emily Randall (bottom) are each vying to succeed Derek Kilmer as the next United States Representative from Washington's 6th Congressional District (Campaign publicity photos)

State Sen­a­tor Emi­ly Ran­dall has bagged a sought-after endorse­ment from Unit­ed States Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Mur­ray in the con­test to fill Washington’s open 6th Dis­trict seat in the Unit­ed States House of Representatives.

Ran­dall and the state’s Com­mis­sion­er of Pub­lic Lands Hilary Franz, both Democ­rats, are lin­ing up sup­port for a seat that does not often come open. It was rep­re­sent­ed for thir­ty-six years by Norm Dicks and anoth­er twelve years by retir­ing Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Derek Kilmer. Both were influ­en­tial in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., but prac­ticed relent­less retail pol­i­tics on the Olympic and Kit­sap Peninsulas.

Kilmer and Dicks have lined up behind Franz. In Kilmer’s words: “Hilary is a bold strate­gic leader with a track record of bring­ing peo­ple togeth­er from across the state and from dif­fer­ent back­grounds to find solu­tions to our problems.”

Mur­ray described Ran­dall as a fight­er on issues to which the sen­a­tor has long devot­ed her­self. “Emi­ly will be a strong voice for women’s rights and health care at a crit­i­cal moment,” said Mur­ray, “and she’s some­one with a proven record of being able to deliv­er on com­mon sense leg­isla­tive solu­tions that will make life bet­ter for peo­ple she represents.”

With a “track record” pit­ted against a “proven record,” 6th Dis­trict vot­ers may get a wel­come oppor­tu­ni­ty to pick the greater of goods rather than the less­er of evils.

Ran­dall rep­re­sents the much fought over 26th Dis­trict on the Kit­sap Penin­su­la (Kit­sap and Pierce coun­ties), where she has deep roots. She is the daugh­ter of a work­er at the Puget Sound Naval Ship­yard in Bremerton.

She flipped a State Sen­ate seat by a one hun­dred and two vote mar­gin, held it in the 2022 midterms, and is cur­rent­ly one of two deputy major­i­ty lead­ers. She was the lead spon­sor of the Keep Our Care Act — NPI pri­or­i­ty leg­is­la­tion to assure that hos­pi­tal acqui­si­tions and merg­ers do not impede patient access to repro­duc­tive, gen­der affirm­ing and life end­ing care. (The bill died in the state House.)

Ran­dall is seek­ing to become the first Lati­na LGBTQ+ mem­ber of the Unit­ed States House of Representatives.

Franz has served two terms as over­seer of state-owned lands, includ­ing more than two mil­lion acres of state owned forests. She is best known for efforts to upgrade the state’s fire­fight­ing response, as cli­mate dam­age has made Washington’s fire sea­son longer and more intense. She has been a tren­chant crit­ic of com­mer­cial farm­ing of Atlantic salmon in home waters of wild Pacif­ic salmon.

The Franz-Ran­dall endorse­ment bat­tle has last­ed through much of the win­ter. Franz has lined up twen­ty union endorse­ments, most promi­nent­ly the Inter­na­tion­al Asso­ci­a­tion of Fire­fight­ers, the Wash­ing­ton Machin­ists Coun­cil and the Wash­ing­ton Build­ing and Con­struc­tion Trades Council.

Back­ers of Ran­dall include many of her leg­isla­tive col­leagues as well as Unit­ed States Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Mar­i­lyn Strick­land and Marie Glue­senkamp Perez, who rep­re­sent two neigh­bor­ing con­gres­sion­al districts.

Taco­ma May­or Vic­to­ria Woodards has endorsed Franz.

The 6th Dis­trict has a major Native Amer­i­can pres­ence, with tribes work­ing to restore salmon runs and relo­cate schools and offices out of tsuna­mi-vul­ner­a­ble areas. Franz has gained endorse­ments from eight trib­al groups includ­ing the Makah Indi­an Nation and the Low­er Elwha Klal­lam Tribe.

The last close quar­ters, intra­mur­al Demo­c­ra­t­ic con­test for a seat in Con­gress here was also in a pres­i­den­tial elec­tion cycle — 2020. The Top Two qual­i­fy­ing elec­tion in the next door 10th Dis­trict sent two Democ­rats to the gen­er­al elec­tion ballot.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Prami­la Jaya­pal deployed resources raised through the Con­gres­sion­al Pro­gres­sive Cau­cus on behalf of State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Beth Doglio. The result was a high­ly neg­a­tive cam­paign against Strick­land, a for­mer Taco­ma may­or who had gone on to head the Seat­tle Met­ro­pol­i­tan Cham­ber of Commerce.

Strick­land won in a walk.

So far, the Franz-Ran­dall con­test has stayed clean, with no attack ads.

Instead, vot­ers can enjoy mul­ti­ple glow­ing testimonials.

From Mur­ray, describ­ing Ran­dall: “I’m with Emi­ly for Con­gress because I know she will be a strong voice for work­ing peo­ple — the friends and neigh­bors she grew up with —in a dis­trict that is her home”

Dicks cel­e­brates Franz in these words: “Under her lead­er­ship, her agency has helped lead the fight against cli­mate change while bring­ing jobs and eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment to com­mu­ni­ties and small towns across the state.”

The 6th Dis­trict is a needy place with a big fed­er­al pres­ence, from the Tri­dent sub­ma­rine base at Ban­gor to Olympic Nation­al Park. Its res­i­dents turn out to town meet­ings and size up their mem­bers of Congress.

Hence, while endorse­ments are cov­et­ed, folks will ask their own ques­tions and make up their own minds. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Kilmer has spent many evenings onstage at high school cafe­te­rias, field­ing ques­tions at town meetings.

On the Repub­li­can side, State Sen­a­tor Drew MacEwen (R‑35th Dis­trict) is run­ning. Jef­fer­son Coun­ty Com­mis­sion­er Kate Dean, a Demo­c­rat, was also briefly in the race, but with­drew after only a few weeks of campaigning.

About the author

Joel Connelly is a Northwest Progressive Institute contributor who has reported on multiple presidential campaigns and from many national political conventions. During his career at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, he interviewed Presidents Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and George H.W. Bush. He has covered Canada from Trudeau to Trudeau, written about the fiscal meltdown of the nuclear energy obsessed WPPSS consortium (pronounced "Whoops") and public lands battles dating back to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

Adjacent posts