Politics & Government

Washington Senate candidate Shari Song fighting portrayal as carpetbagger

Washington Republicans, fighting to keep control of the state Senate, are working to solidify a perception of Democratic candidate Shari Song as a carpetbagger.

Song and her opponent, Democrat-turned-Republican Mark Miloscia, both are residents of Federal Way and the 30th District. But Song, a real-estate agent, moved there only earlier this year.

She and her husband John have lived in Federal Way before, in 1986 and 1987 and again from 1991 to 1997, she said. She ran a preschool and led the city’s diversity commission. They moved on to Washington, D.C., Mercer Island, Seattle and most recently Bellevue, where she ran unsuccessfully for King County Council.

Now the couple has returned to Federal Way, moving into a house across the street from her husband’s mother and father.

“I think I know the issues that affect Federal Way families and residents” as much or more than Miloscia, Song said Monday.

Still, her move back to the district ahead of the election gives the GOP an opening.

So do her campaign contributions, which are overwhelmingly from outside the district. King County Republicans pounced in a news release last week.

“Shari Song’s very low in-district donations points to a lack of support from the communities she seeks to represent,” King County GOP Chairwoman Lori Sotelo said in a statement.

According to campaign reports as of Tuesday, Song has raised $1,900 inside her district, excluding donations from her and her husband. That's just 4.5 percent of all contributions from identified donors

The share was lower before May 25, the cutoff date the GOP used in its own analysis.

Song has received donations from people in Seattle; Kenosha, Wisconsin; and Henderson, Nevada.

Song said it’s a benefit to have a “broad base” of support including people from all kinds of professions both inside and outside the district.

“It is too early to nitpick over who’s getting money from where,” Song said — then pointed out Miloscia is receiving money from the GOP and a lobbying group for chemical companies that has opposed efforts to remove toxic flame retardants from children’s products.

So how do Miloscia’s in-district contributions stack up?

They are far from a majority of his money, but a far larger share than Song’s.

He pulled in $8,200 from outside his household and inside the district. That’s 23 percent of his total contributions from named donors.

Miloscia has received money from GOP groups in Olympia; a Roseburg, Oregon, based bank with branches in the 30th District; and the Washington, D.C., based American Chemistry Council.

Oddly enough, Miloscia actually testified in favor of a toxics ban the chemistry council opposed. He was lobbying on behalf of the Washington State Catholic Conference at the time.

Both candidates are guaranteed spots in the November general election, making the August primary little more than a straw poll. But Republicans could be hitting Song early in hopes of a de facto knockout in the primary.

Miloscia starts off better known in the district, having spent seven terms in the state House. If he opens up a wide enough primary lead, it’s possible Democrats would steer their money to other races looking more winnable. If Song keeps it close, though, it could be an expensive race this fall — with much more money flowing in from outside the district.

Song told King County Democrats she expects to raise about $350,000.