EDMONDS — In the course of 16 years as a lawmaker, Sen. Maralyn Chase has established herself as one of the most left-leaning members of the Democratic Caucus.
Yet while other progressive Democratic women candidates are expected to fare well in next week’s election, Chase is in a tough ballot battle with a fellow Democrat in the 32nd Legislative District.
Jesse Salomon, a Shoreline City Councilman with a solid liberal bent in his political approach, narrowly won the August primary.
Since then, as he’s pounded the pavement, he has garnered attention and financial aid of influential Olympia interest groups with whom Chase has clashed in her tenure including Realtors, education reformers, and oil and drug companies.
“It’s payback time,” Chase said. “It’s the 1 percent. I’ve never seen them come out in such force against me.”
To Salomon, it’s a response to her combative rather than collaborative approach. It’s one reason he got into the race, because he said the style has not served the district well nor enabled her to enact progressive legislation.
“You have to be a coalition-builder,” he said. “She had a reputation of being someone who didn’t effectively represent a safe Democratic district.”
Chase and Salomon are dueling for a four-year term representing a district that straddles the border of Snohomish and King counties. It includes Edmonds, Lynnwood, Woodway and Shoreline, along with parts of Mountlake Terrace and Seattle.
In the primary, Salomon finished 168 votes ahead of Chase. Between them they accounted for 76 percent of votes cast with James Wood, a Republican, collecting the remaining 24 percent. Republican voters, and independents who favor the Grand Old Party, may be the decisive votes in this contest.
Chase, 76, of Edmonds, won a seat in the state House in 2002 and was re-elected three times. She won her seat in the Senate in 2010 and is seeking a third term.
She said a chief focus, if re-elected, is to ensure the state prepares itself and its workers for an economy in which increased use of technology and digitization is transforming methods of production and manufacturing.
“We’re going to have amazing changes and we need to be ready for it,” she said. “We need to start training people now.”
Salomon, 42, has served on the City Council for seven years and is the deputy mayor. He’s a former public defender in King County. In 2006, he ran for a state Senate seat in Whatcom County and lost.
A key issue he stresses on the campaign trail is beefing up early childhood education programs and making sure all children have access to preschool. Tackling the effects of climate change is another, he said.
“It is going to be the defining issue in the future, so if we don’t talk about it and if we don’t talk about the science then we will be going down a very dangerous path,” he said.
The two candidates hold similar views on many issues.
Both embrace public education.
Chase voted against the 2017 school funding law intended to comply with the mandates of the McCleary lawsuit because it counted too much on a property tax increase. This year, she voted to provide a one-time partial rollback of the increase while putting in another billion dollars for teacher pay.
She said she does not oppose lifting the cap on how much school districts can raise from voter-approved property tax levies.
Salomon said he’d have supported the bill in 2017 though he recognized how hard it hit many homeowners. He said if schools need additional dollars, the state should look for other ways to raise revenue such as ending tax exemptions rather than allowing property taxes to rise further.
Neither is averse to new taxes.
Chase has introduced bills for a tax on income and on tangible property though neither idea has received votes.
Salomon said he “supports the concept” of a capital gains tax but “needs to see the details” and would not vote for any proposal that lacked exemptions related to the sale of stocks and bonds, and primary residences.
As far as an income tax, he said he’s “personally” comfortable with the idea but would not vote for it as a legislator.
They disagreed on Sound Transit’s $54 billion expansion plan known as ST3. Approved by voters in 2016, it should result in light rail service in Snohomish County next decade.
Chase opposed it, saying she did not like the route design, the cost, and the increased taxes. It included a new property tax plus hikes in the sales tax and car tab fee collected within the transit district.
Salomon backed the ballot measure and has voted to increase density on property around the future Shoreline station. He said residents need more and better transit options.
Endorsements and contributions are revealing about some of the points of demarcation between the two.
Chase is backed by Attorney General Bob Ferguson and U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, two of the state’s loudest voices in the resistance to Republican President Donald Trump. She also has 16 fellow state senators, Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers, and a slew of unions including those representing teachers, health care workers, machinists and government workers.
Salomon is endorsed by the 32nd District’s two House members, Reps. Cindy Ryu, of Shoreline, and Ruth Kagi, of Seattle. He is also supported by King County Executive Dow Constantine and the mayors of Edmonds, Lynnwood, Shoreline, Woodway and Mukilteo.
Salomon enjoys a large fund-raising advantage. As of Tuesday, he had raised $151,621 to Chase’s total of $89,238, according to reports filed with the Public Disclosure Commission. Salomon’s total includes $42,000 of his own money.
In October, he’s received $1,000 checks from Chevron, PHRMA, and the Washington Association of Realtors, and $500 from Monsanto. Most of these organizations have tangled with Chase and do not typically help elect liberal Democrats.
In addition, he’s benefited from two independent campaigns. The Realtors have spent $40,439 on mailers hitting Chase’s record while Stand For Children, an education reform group which worked to legalize charter schools, has spent $37,725 on digital ads backing Salomon.
Chase, meanwhile, has received donations from unions, tribes and many political action committees. She has not received any large sums from the Senate Democratic Caucus which is sitting out this intraparty battle.
Election Day is Nov. 6.