UPDATE 3/7: The state Democratic Party released a statement on Miloscia's defection to the Republicans. It's at the end of the post.
Federal Way is shaping up as one of the key battlegrounds for control of the state Senate.
The Senate's mostly GOP majority already includes two Democrats who switched allegiance while keeping their party identification. Now a former Democrat wants to join in November -- if he can unseat one of the Legislature's longest serving Democrats.
In a news release today, former seven-term Rep. Mark Miloscia of Federal Way said he will run as a Republican against Sen. Tracey Eide of Des Moines.
The announcement is not a total departure for Miloscia, a social conservative who opposes abortion rights and same-sex marriage, voted against some tax increases, and at one point announced he would challenge Speaker Frank Chopp for leadership of his fellow House Democrats.
Still, it would make for an interesting dynamic in an already strained coalition. Miloscia has been a big union supporter who has supported raising the minimum wage, opposed workers-compensation changes and earned a 91 percent lifetime voting record from the Washington State Labor Council.
Miloscia left the Legislature to mount an unsuccessful campaign for state auditor.
He explained his decision to switch parties this way:
The most important thing is to independently represent your district and not to follow orders from the party bosses or special interests. I would not vote to make it easier to raise taxes when the district voted repeatedly for a two-thirds majority requirement.Here's his full release:
Today, it’s the Republican Party that offers a big tent, welcoming different views, from moderates like Secretary of State Kim Wyman and Senator Steve Litzow, to conservatives in Eastern Washington. Washington State Republicans don’t insist that everyone believe and vote exactly the same way to run for office.
Miloscia to run for 30th District Senate seat as a Republican
Former State Representative Mark Miloscia, 55, of Federal Way, announced today that he is running for State Senate in the 30th Legislative District, as a Republican, against Democratic Sen. Tracey Eide.
“The hardworking people in the 30th District deserve a Senator who will work to make government efficient and accountable, from local classrooms to big government agencies,” he said. “I voted against unnecessary tax increases and bloated budgets when I was in the Legislature and will continue to ensure taxpayer money is not wasted."
Miloscia served seven terms in the State House, including Chair of the Housing Committee and Chair of the Audit Review and Government Oversight Committee where he led efforts to improve government efficiency and accountability.
He also worked as a substitute teacher for both the Federal Way Public Schools and the Seattle Catholic Archdiocese when the Legislature was not in session.
Miloscia said he wanted to continue to help the local community through service in the Legislature.
“In the Legislature, I helped the homeless, protected taxpayers, initiated performance audits, and worked to address the unfair funding gap Federal Way schools face.”
“Senator Eide and I have very different voting records,” Miloscia said. “I opposed reckless spending and tax increases while Senator Eide supported them. I supported innovative approaches to improving our schools, while Senator Eide opposed them and cut funding.”
“I’ve spent my entire career making government more accountable and improving education. In the Air Force, I audited billion dollar contracts to prevent waste and abuse. I took the same approach to taxpayer dollars while in the legislature. I will not vote to see taxpayer dollars wasted or ineffective programs continued. I worked as a teacher and pushed in the Legislature to improve schools.”
Miloscia will focus his campaign on talking directly one-to-one with voters.
“I plan to knock on 20,000 doors and meet as many people as I can. It’s amazing what you learn when you take the time to listen. Schools, jobs, and public safety are certainly the most important issues for most folks. I will listen, work exceptionally hard in Olympia, and fight to have a state government that shares our values and goals,” said Miloscia.
Miloscia, who received over fifty-nine percent of the vote in 2006, 2008, and 2010, said he switched parties only after months of careful consideration.
“The most important thing is to independently represent your district and not to follow orders from the party bosses or special interests,” Miloscia said. “I would not vote to make it easier to raise taxes when the district voted repeatedly for a two-thirds majority requirement.”
“Today, it’s the Republican Party that offers a big tent, welcoming different views, from moderates like Secretary of State Kim Wyman and Senator Steve Litzow, to conservatives in Eastern Washington,” Miloscia said. “Washington State Republicans don’t insist that everyone believe and vote exactly the same way to run for office.”
Miloscia also noted that other Federal Way elected officials have switched parties.
“Our area votes for the best person, not the party,” Miloscia said. “They want someone who will stand up for jobs, for schools, for working people, and for the least among us, regardless of party.”
He is endorsed by 30th District State Representative Linda Kochmar, former state Senator Dino Rossi, State Senator Bruce Dammeier, State Republican Party Chair Susan Hutchison, and King County Republican Chair Lori Sotelo.
“Mark has the experience and deep understanding of our community to make an outstanding State Senator. He has a sterling record helping low-income families get ahead and protecting the most needy,” Kochmar said.
Bruce Dammeier said, “I’ve worked with Mark and know he will be an exceptional addition to the Majority Caucus in the State Senate. Everyone in Olympia has seen Mark's concern for our public schools and dedication to making the government run more efficiently. He is a person of proven character who works hard for his community. I have no doubt he will be able to bring people together working for practical solutions to the problems faced by our communities in the years ahead.”
Miloscia was first elected in 1995 as a Commissioner to Lakehaven Utility District, Washington state’s largest public water and sewer district, and then as a State Representative in 1998.
His model legislation to reduce homelessness in Washington State earned him numerous awards from state housing organizations in addition to the national “Home for Every American” Award from the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.
Other significant accomplishments including graduating from the John F. Kennedy School of Government State and Local Government’s Leadership Program at Harvard University and becoming the first elected official in the nation to be accepted as a National Examiner for the U.S. Dept of Commerce’s Baldrige Performance Excellence Program, whose mission is to improve the competitiveness and performance of U.S. organizations.
Miloscia is an Air Force Academy graduate with a degree in engineering, a former B-52 pilot, and received an MBA from the University of North Dakota. His children attended public schools in Federal Way.
Miloscia and his wife, Meschell, live in Federal Way. They have three children, Elizabeth, Scott, and Brian, son-law John, daughter-in-law Minyoung Lee and six grandsons, Austin, Jackson, Carson, Lincoln, Jefferson and Trenton.
Miloscia represented the 30th Legislative District from 1999 to 2012.
Here's the Democrats' response. Senate Democrats hold 23 seats, two votes shy of a majority:
Today, Mark Miloscia put his own needs above those of 30th District residents by announcing that he will switch parties and run as a Republican for State Senate.
With his last-place finish in the race for State Auditor in 2012, Miloscia is upset that the voters of Washington state chose not to give him a promotion. He saw that he wasnt advancing fast enough as a Democrat, and he also saw how Rodney Tom has been rewarded for voting with Republicans in the State Senate. By switching parties, Mark Miloscia is hoping that he will gain a faster path to power like Rodney Tom.
We are proud to support Senator Tracey Eide, and we are confident that 30th District residents will return her to the State Senate.