Four seats in the state House of Representatives are up for election Nov. 4 in two of Pierce County’s redder districts – the 2nd and 25th. Given the results of the Aug. 5 primary, Republicans are likely to win at least three of them.
The rural 2nd District, which includes southeast Pierce County and a strip of Thurston County, used to elect a conservative Democrat every now and then. But it’s been a while. Today it’s considered a reliably Republican stronghold, and the two Republicans on the Nov. 4 ballot cruised to big numbers in the primary. No Democrat even filed for one of these seats.
• House Position 1: Two Orting men are vying in this race – RepublicanGraham Hunt
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, a former Orting city councilman, and Democrat Greg Hartman, a retired firefighter. Hunt, who owns an insurance brokerage, was appointed to the seat in January and is seeking his first full term. In the August “beauty contest” against Hartman, Hunt won 59.7 percent of the vote to Hartman’s 40. 2 percent.
Hartman is a solid, labor-oriented candidate who would be an asset for the 2nd in the Democrat-controlled House. But Hunt better reflects this conservative district, and his background on the Orting City Council and experience as a small business owner serve him well in the House. He should get a full term.
• House Position 2: IncumbentJ.T. Wilcox
, R-Yelm, is seeking a third term; after winning almost 70 percent of the primary vote, he shouldn’t be sweating it. His opponent, Libertarian Steven Nielson of Orting, won 21 percent in the three-way primary race that included another third-party candidate. Democrats couldn’t even come up with a ballot place-holder in this race.
Wilcox, the former chief financial officer for his family’s dairy farm, has become a Republican leader in the House. He deserves another term.
• In the 25th District – which includes Puyallup, South Hill and Fife – Democratic incumbent
of Puyallup is seeking her sixth (nonconsecutive) term. The critical care nurse is a much respected voice on health care issues in the Legislature and has a key position as chairwoman of the Health and Human Services Appropriations subcommittee. District voters should return her to office.
Besides Morrell’s deep understanding of the issues facing the state, there is also a stark political fact of life to consider: The 25th can ill afford to lose its only link to the Democratic-controlled House.
Morrell’s opponent is an energetic young Republican, Melanie Stambaugh of Puyallup, who probably would buck party conservatives on some issues: She’s pro-choice and “would be willing to consider” a gas tax to fund a transportation package that includes completion of state Route 167. She has much to offer, and came very close to Morrell in the primary, but she could use more experience at the local level before diving into state office.
• In the House Position 2 race, RepublicanHans Zeiger
is seeking a third term in a race against Democrat Eric Renz, a retired minister and human services provider. Both are Puyallup residents.
Renz is a thoughtful candidate, but we’ll stick with the incumbent. Zeiger has demonstrated an imaginative streak on social policy and has been a strong supporter of higher education. He was the only House Republican who supported a funding package for the transportation package that included the crucial completion of SR 167 – which ultimately failed due to lack of Republican support. He deserves a chance to persuade more in his party to back this and other vital infrastructure projects.
To read more endorsement interviews, go to www.thenewstribune.com/endorsements.