Hottest south county legislative race is for Senate seat

The most hotly contested legislative race on South Snohomish County ballots in the November election is the 1st District state Senate contest between Democratic incumbent Rosemary McAuliffe and Republican challenger Dawn McCravey.

McAuliffe is chairwoman of the state Senate committee on education and a former member of the Northshore School Board. McCravey is a current Northshore board member.

McCravey charges McAuliffe with blocking needed school reform, including a bill that would have allowed school districts that make cutbacks to make layoffs on factors other than seniority, McAuliffe counters that she has sponsored the state’s landmark bill defining basic education.

McCravey said Thursday that McAuliffe is a tool of the Washington Education Association, but McAuliffe said Friday that she has defied the WEA on many issues, including changes in the way school districts evaluate teachers.

McAuliffe outpolled McCravey in the August primary 44 percent to 42 percent, with 14 percent for Democrat Guy Palumbo.

The contest has drawn a lot of money, with McCravey having raised $122,089 and spent $66,032 to McAuliffe’s $117,514 raised and $80,948 spent. The race has drawn independent expenditures of $93,272 supporting McAuliffe and $65,612 opposing her, Before the primary, Palumbo had raised $52,353 and spent $52,685.

McCravey said that the race has a lot of money from outside the 1st District because McAuliffe is drawing money from the Washington Education Association and other estate education groups and opposition from anti-establishment education groups. She also said that both political parties view the district as important to control of the Senate.

McAuliffe said that much of the money opposing her comes from out-of-state groups that want to promote charter schools at the expense of public schools.

The race has been nasty, with McAuliffe supporters linking McCravey with family interests in the oil industry and charging McCravey with avoiding taking stands on social issues like abortion and gay marriage.

Opponents charge McCravey with missing many candidate forums, but McCravey says that one conflicted with a school board meeting and others were outside the district.

The 1st District includes most of Mountlake Terrace, all of Brier and Bothell, part of Kirkland, unincorporated areas of King County between Bothell and Kirkland, and unincorporated areas of Snohomish County north and east of Bothell.

Palumbo first declared his candidacy as an independent, saying that he was a fiscal conservative and social liberal, but ran as a Democrat. After losing in the primary, he said that he hadn’t decided whom to endorse in the general election, but he said a few days ago that he would endorse incumbent Democrat McAuliffe because she understood the problems of small businesses and because she had taken progressive stands on same-sex marriage and other social issues.

McCravey said Thursday that Palumbo was seeking to advance his future political career.

McAuliffe said that she has been a major backer of State money for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education, particularly in the middle grades. She said that the state couldn’t reach its mandate of future supporting basic education throughout the state without additional revenue, adding that cutting all money from social services and higher education wouldn’t provide the money to fully support basic education,

Evan Smith can be reached at

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