Island Co. Senate race: Petrish crosses over, supports Bailey

Angie Homola (left) and Barbara Bailey

OLYMPIA — An unlikely union of political foes could spoil the Democratic Party’s chance of retaking a state Senate seat in Island County.

Sen. Barbara Bailey, the Oak Harbor Republican seeking a second term, has secured the endorsement of Nick Petrish, a Democratic challenger she vanquished in the August primary.

Petrish, of Big Lake near Mount Vernon, chose Bailey rather than his party’s candidate, Angie Homola of Oak Harbor, somebody he has called a friend and has shared many political positions.

Apparently not enough of the right ones.

“Senator Bailey, with her continued presence and leadership in the Senate, will help all Washingtonians get the votes we need to protect our Bill of Rights, protect our union rights, to develop nuclear power in order to reverse climate change, revitalize industry, but more importantly, save our future,” Petrish said in a statement he released Sept. 24 explaining his endorsement.

A few days later Bailey issued a press release in which Petrish is quoted saying Homola’s environmental views are “extreme” and “out of touch with our community.”

Homola said Monday she had heard rumors about Petrish’s decision but had not spoken directly with him about it. On Tuesday, the former Island County commissioner issued a statement.

“I’m not sure why Nick endorsed corporate funded incumbent Barbara Bailey,” it began. “She consistently votes against middle class families and equal pay for women, raised gas taxes to pay for King County mega projects, opposed health care coverage for seniors and the vulnerable, denies climate science, and advocates outsourcing local jobs to other states.”

This row is taking place in the 1oth Legislative District which encompasses all of Island County with fingerlings in Snohomish and Skagit counties, too.

Mary Margaret Haugen, a Democrat, reigned as senator in this district for two decades before Bailey dethroned her in 2012 in one of that year’s most expensive campaigns.

Bailey’s win helped push the Republican Party into control of the chamber. Retaking the seat is part of the Democratic Party’s game plan for recapturing the majority in the Nov. 8 election.

While it didn’t seem very likely when the year began, party leaders’ hopes surged with the results of this year’s primary. Bailey won with 51.5 percent followed by Homola with 38 percent and Petrish with 10.5 percent.

When Democratic Party strategists do the math they add up the totals of their two candidates and see a close race and real possibility for a victory. Expect a lot of money and effort expended to get more Democrats than Republicans participating.

Those in the Republican Party see a similar equation. On Sept. 29, the Senate Republican Campaign Committee cut a $75,000 check to Bailey’s campaign, giving the senator more than twice as much money as her opponent entering the final month of campaigning.

If it turns out to be the close race both parties anticipate, Petrish’s supporters could make a difference.

Consider the situation in Island County where the bulk of the district’s voters reside. Petrish garnered 7 percent in the primary with Homola getting 44.2 percent and Bailey had 48.8 percent.

If Petrish’s supporters heed his advice, that would significantly boost Bailey’s bid for re-election. If they stand with their party, it would bolster Homola’s bid for an upset.

Voting will begin in the county next week.

Political reporter Jerry Cornfield’s blog, The Petri Dish, is at Contact him at 360-352-8623; and on Twitter at @dospueblos

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