King County Councilman Joe McDermott

King County Councilman Joe McDermott

Candidates vie to replace retiring Rep. McDermott

  • By Walker Orenstein Associated Press
  • Sunday, May 1, 2016 8:35pm
  • Local News

SEATTLE — The three leading candidates to replace U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott are pushing to distinguish themselves in Washington’s deeply liberal 7th Congressional District.

McDermott, a Democrat first elected in 1988, is serving his 14th term in Congress. In early January, he announced that he would not seek re-election. State Rep. Brady Walkinshaw, D-Seattle, was the first to enter the race, challenging McDermott before his retirement announcement. But several others quickly jumped in when they learned there would be no incumbent.

“My phone starting ringing off the hook and people were like, ‘are you running, are you running, are you running?”’ state Sen. Pramila Jayapal said.

Jayapal, Walkinshaw and King County Councilman Joe McDermott — no relation to the congressman — are the big Democratic names in the race. Edmonds businessman Jeff Stilwell, community activist and political adviser Donovan Rivers and former Burien Mayor Arun Jhaveri, are also running to represent the district that encompasses much of Seattle, but reaches north past Edmonds and south to Normandy Park and Vashon Island.

Even with the wide open nature of the race, the trio of leading Democrats has yet to find much separation on issues. At a recent debate between the three candidates in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood, there was far more agreeing than arguing on subjects such as accepting refugees from Syria.

All said the U.S. should allow more into the country.

The candidates’ similar politics doesn’t surprise University of Washington political science professor Mark Smith, who said the district is “as far left as any district in the country.” Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders won a landslide victory in Seattle in the state’s March presidential caucuses and Socialist Kshama Sawant was re-elected last year to the City Council.

But while the trio begins to feel out where their policy stances diverge, each say political style, accomplishments and background, sets them apart.

Walkinshaw, 32, is the youngest of the leading candidates and was first appointed to the state Legislature in 2013. His mother emigrated from Cuba in the 1960s, and he grew up in rural Whatcom County.

During the last two legislative sessions, Walkinshaw sponsored measures, now laws, to improve mental health care and reduce opioid overdoses and drug addiction. He also sponsored a bill that allows some former prisoners to obtain jobs in fields that currently bar people based on their criminal record. It was signed by Gov. Jay Inslee in March.

Walkinshaw, who would be the first openly gay Latino in Congress, was often a behind-the-scenes-type lawmaker in the Legislature. He said he excels in building coalitions to pass progressive legislation in a divided government. So far, Walkinshaw narrowly leads the field in fundraising, according to the Federal Election Commission.

“Sometimes the people you hear from the least in politics are the ones doing the most, and I think that’s an important consideration in leadership,” he said.

Walkinshaw said his first priority in Congress would be advocating for legislation to reduce negative effects of climate change, such as taxing carbon emissions.

In Olympia, Jayapal has been a spirited debater on the Senate floor and a vocal leader for a higher statewide minimum wage, racial and gender equity, more affordable college and increasing access to reproductive health care. “Vociferous” opposition to legislation she disagrees with and making legislative accomplishments through back channels are crucial parts of her resume, Jayapal said.

While Jayapal, 50, was first elected in 2014, she previously founded OneAmerica in response to hate crimes and discrimination against Arabs, South Asians and Muslims following the 2001 Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The organization works to engage immigrants in government and to implement policies to help immigrant communities.

Jayapal was born in India and came to the U.S. at 16. She has introduced Sanders at rallies, and he has also raised money for her.

“I don’t believe that this is about electing me, this really is about electing all of us,” she said while talking about their similarities. “The idea is how do you bring a movement into Congress?”

The third front-runner, Joe McDermott, has been in elected office far longer than the other leading candidates. He served in the Legislature for 10 years as both a representative and a senator, has been a King County councilmember since 2010 and is on the board at Sound Transit and the King County Board of Health.

Joe McDermott championed legislation along with Ed Murray, now Seattle’s mayor, allowing more rights for domestic partners — before voters approved same-sex marriage in 2012. Joe McDermott, who is gay, also helped add sexual orientation — which includes gender identity — to Washington’s anti-discrimination law.

His pitch to voters has emphasized campaign finance reform and reducing gun violence. On his first day in office, the 48-year-old said he would introduce a bill to reverse the U.S. Supreme Court decision known as Citizens United, which rejected a ban on corporate and union election spending.

Joe McDermott, who lives in West Seattle, said he knows when to fight for change incrementally, and when to push for fast efforts.

“If ‘establishment’ is experienced and accomplished, I’m proud of my experience and accomplishments,” he said.

The top-two vote getters in the Aug. 2 primary will head to the Nov. 8 general election.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Kim Skarda points at her home on a map on Thursday, June 20, 2024 in Concrete, Washington. A community called Sauk River Estates has a very steep slope above it. There is a DNR-approved timber sale that boarders the estate properties, yet they were not consulted about the sale before approval. The community has already appealed the sale and has hired their own geologist to conduct a slope stability report at the site. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Beneath steep slope, Concrete neighbors fear landslides from logging above

Nielsen Brothers plans to cut 54 acres of timber directly behind the community of 83 homes. Locals said they were never consulted.

Law enforcement respond to a person hit by a train near the Port of Everett Mount Baker Terminal on Thursday, June 27, 2024 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
2 killed in waterfront train crashes were near Mukilteo ‘quiet zone’

In June, two people were hit by trains on separate days near Mukilteo Boulevard. “These situations are incredibly tragic,” Everett’s mayor said.

Rob Plotnikoff takes a measurement as a part of the county's State of Our Waters survey at Tambark Creek in Bothell, Washington on Monday, July 1, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Snohomish County stream team bushwhacks a path to healthier waterways

This summer, the crew of three will survey 40 sites for the State of Our Waters program. It’s science in locals’ backyards.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
4th suspect arrested after Mountlake Terrace home robbery

Police arrested Taievion Rogers, 19, on Tuesday. Prosecutors charged his three alleged accomplices in April.

A 10 acre parcel off of Highway 99, between 240th and 242nd Street Southwest that the city of Edmonds is currently in the process of acquiring on Monday, July 10, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edmonds ditches $37M Landmark public park project off Highway 99

The previous mayor envisioned parks and more in south Edmonds, in a historically neglected area. The new administration is battling budget woes.

Edmonds school official sworn in as Mount Vernon supe

Victor Vergara took his oath of office last week. He was assistant superintendent of equity and student success in Edmonds.

Alyvia Nguyen, 8, climbs on leaf shaped steps at the new Corcoran Memorial Park playground on Friday, July 12, 2024 in Bothell, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
New Bothell-area park ‘could not be a more fitting dedication’

In 2019, Jim Corcoran donated $1.5 million worth of land to become a public park. He died before he could see it completed.

Cars line up for the Edmonds ferry in Edmonds, Washington on Thursday, Dec. 7, 2023.  (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Ferry line jumpers face a $145 fine — and scorn from other drivers

Law enforcement is on the lookout for line cutters. It’s a “hot-button issue that can lead to something worse.”

Mother charged in Stanwood toddler’s fentanyl overdose death

Morgan Bassett woke up in January 2022 and found her daughter wasn’t breathing. Last week, she was charged with manslaughter.

FILE — Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) arrives to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md., on Feb. 23, 2024. Former President Donald Trump has chosen Vance to be his running mate, wagering that the young senator will bring fresh energy to the Republican ticket and ensure that the movement Trump began nearly a decade ago can live on after him. (Haiyun Jiang/The New York Times)
J.D. Vance is Trump’s pick for vice president

Vance, once a Trump critic, is an ambitious ideologue who relishes the spotlight. His selection comes just days after Trump survived an assassination attempt.

Former president Donald Trump is seen with a bloody ear as he is assisted off the stage during a campaign rally in Butler, Pa., on Saturday. MUST CREDIT: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post
Pops, screams and then blood: On the scene at the Trump rally shooting

Isaac Arnsdorf, Jabin Botsford | The Washington Post BUTLER, Pa. - The… Continue reading

Biden, Democrats, Republicans denounce shooting at Trump rally

Reaction pours in from government leaders

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.