Everett’s Robinson likely to win state House seat

Democrats are hoping the die is cast for June Robinson, of Everett, to become a member of the state House of Representatives next week.

Robinson emerged Tuesday night as the party’s top choice to fill the 38th Legislative District seat John McCoy vacated when he moved to the Senate.

She finished ahead of Jennifer Smolen of Marysville and Deborah Parker of Tulalip in balloting by the district’s precinct committee officers.

On Monday, the Snohomish County Council will interview the three nominees, then appoint one to represent residents in Everett, Tulalip and a slice of Marysville through the 2014 election.

The four Democrats and one Republican on the County Council are expected to respect the wishes of the party members and Robinson could be sworn in Monday afternoon.

Robinson’s resume of community service is impressive and she’s got a track record of involvement in the Democratic Party. And she racked up endorsements for the appointment from lawmakers like McCoy and Rep. Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish, as well as former Sen. Nick Harper.

Yet the next few days could be interesting, should Smolen, Parker or both be of the mind to try and persuade County Council members to buck the party activists.

Parker entered the competition at the quiet urging of U.S. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell. Those are good friends to have if they’ll make a phone call on your behalf.

And Smolen did work alongside council Chairwoman Stephanie Wright last year and state Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, the year before that. She knows how politics is played in Snohomish County and Olympia.

Though each can make a case for themselves to the council these next few days, they’ll probably need to wait to make it for voters next year if they really want the job.

All signs point to the die being cast for Robinson becoming the newest member of the Legislature.

* * *

A little ways south, a race is starting to take shape for a seat in the 21st Legislative District.

State Sen. Paull Shin, D-Edmonds, intends to retire when his term ends in 2014 and Rep. Marko Liias, D-Everett, is campaigning with a full head of steam to replace him.

That means Liias’ seat will be opening up in the district which encompasses Edmonds, Lynnwood and south Everett. Like the 38th, it has a history of electing Democrats.

Lillian Ortiz-Self, of Mukilteo, is a Democrat who has wasted little time in pursuing it. She launched her campaign in late October and hauled in a little more than $5,000 in contributions in the first few hours.

This is her first bid for state office but the Everett High School counselor is no political novice.

She is in her second term on Washington’s Commission on Hispanic Affairs and serves on separate committees dealing with the issues of discipline, academic achievement and educational opportunities in the public schools system.

On the Republican side, Jeff Thorp said he is gearing up to run.

Thorp, who was just elected to a third term on the Mukilteo School Board, would be making his second bid for state office. He lost to Mike Cooper in 2002 and contemplated a run against former Rep. Brian Sullivan in 2004 then decided against it.

With the prospect of an open seat, more candidates are expected to step up before the filing deadline next May.

Political reporter Jerry Cornfield’s blog, The Petri Dish, is at www.heraldnet.com. Contact him at 360-352-8623 or jcornfield@heraldnet.com.

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