Martin Moore, a Federal Way City Council member and former aide to the late Democratic Rep. Roger Freeman, has announced he will seek his boss’s former seat in the Legislature.
Though previously a Democrat, Moore said Tuesday that he will run this fall as a Republican.
Moore will be the second Democrat in the past year who has switched parties to run for a seat in the 30th Legislative District, which includes Algona, Federal Way, Milton, Pacific, and parts of Des Moines and Auburn. Sen. Mark Miloscia, R-Federal Way, previously served several terms in the state House as a Democrat before winning election to the Senate as a Republican last fall.
Moore looks as if he will face appointed Democratic state Rep. Carol Gregory, a Democrat who Gov. Jay Inslee chose earlier this month to replace Freeman. Gregory has already registered her candidacy with the state Public Disclosure Commission and raised $542 for the campaign.
Freeman, a Democrat from Federal Way, died Oct. 29 but still won re-election six days later.
State law says legislative vacancies must be filled by a member of the same party. Democratic party officials narrowed the candidate pool to three Democratic nominees in December, with Inslee ultimately appointing Gregory to fill the seat earlier this month.
Moore, who had served as Freeman’s campaign manager as well as his legislative assistant, was not one of the three Democratic finalists for Freeman’s position.
Moore, 30, said he didn’t seek the appointment to Freeman’s vacant seat in last fall partly because his political views at that time were “evolving.”
Last year he revised his stance on abortion, he said, becoming pro-life. Moore had previously indicated on a 2013 campaign questionnaire that he would “support women’s absolute right to reproductive freedom.”
Moore said in a phone interview that his views changed after he became confirmed in the Catholic church in early 2014 and became more serious about his faith.
He said being at Freeman’s bedside last year as the former lawmaker died also gave him a new perspective on the abortion debate.
“When you see someone passing away, you begin to see how precious life really is,” Moore said.
Moore said one reason he left the Democratic party because he didn’t feel his pro-life views were welcome there.
Jaxon Ravens, chairman of the Washington State Democratic Party, wrote in an email that he and other party officials strongly believe politicians should stay out of women’s reproductive decisions.
“I was disappointed to hear that Mr. Moore decided that his political career was more important than the rights of women,” Ravens wrote.
In a press release Tuesday, Moore also said he was unimpressed with what Democrats have accomplished in the Legislature in the past few decades. He said if elected, he would work hard to reform government and make it more efficient.
“Democrats have had a firm grip on Olympia for 30 years and what do we have to show for it? Declining wages, a court order to reform and fund our schools, crumbling roads and bridges, skyrocketing college tuition, and an inefficient and ineffective government,” Moore’s statement said. “It has been the Republicans who have put the people – not special interests – first.”
Moore is running with the support of Miloscia, a friend of his who also is pro-life.
Gregory, a Federal Way school board member, is a former teacher and past president of the state teachers union.
A third candidate for the 30th district House seat, Clifford Greene, has filed campaign finance paperwork but pledged to spend no more than $5,000 on the race. Green identifies his party preference as the Revived Citizens Party.