Steve Hobbs earns re-election

Voters take note: State Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, rankles members of both political parties. As Churchill said (and we’re not suggesting the incumbent senator is Churchillian, mind you), “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime.”

Hobbs has been a sweat-equity lawmaker who stands up — often successfully — in support of contentious issues. We don’t agree with him on some policies, but he’s a workhorse who merits reelection.

Hobbs is a near-perfect expression of his diverse, hard-to-nail-down 44th District: A sometimes-Libertarian independent Democrat who tries to navigate a middle ground. It’s not a posture that wins friends in a caucus meeting. But it’s the mostly sensible center, which voters embrace.

Hobbs, co-vice chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, deserves credit for trying, albeit unsuccessfully, to rescue a transportation-finance package and ensure that county-specific projects (think Highway 9) were part of the deal. He expressed a willingness to yield on a series of Republican-reform demands, including application of the sales tax and tweaks to prevailing wage. The effort was blunted by the majority caucus coalition, which was unsatisfied with progress on its must-have list. As a de facto member of the minority party, Hobbs could only make incremental progress on matters dear to him, such as an amendment to open up Medicaid funding for Washington nursing homes.

“I helped put together the moderate caucus in 2010,” Hobbs said, sidestepping the group’s unfortunate moniker (“roadkill,” for what happens to those sitting in the middle of the road.)

Hobbs’ capable opponent, Jim Kellett, who plays down his Republican affiliation, could be an honorary road-killer if elected in November. Kellett, a financial adviser for Edward Jones Investments since 1994, is a fiscal conservative who expressed serious reservations about the Boeing tax package. He’s more averse than Hobbs to raising taxes to fund K-12 consistent with the McCleary decision, while seeing eye-to-eye on initiatives such as I-594 (both are opposed to universal background checks to purchase a firearm.)

One major reservation regarding Hobbs is his choice of friends and staff. Hobbs helped launch the mischief-making career of Kevin Hulten, the disgraced former aide to Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon, and he also was one of Reardon’s closest pals. Hobbs refused to discuss Hulten’s activities with The Herald in 2013. We can only hope that Hobbs’ poor judgment was an aberration.

Two qualified candidates; the nod goes to Hobbs.

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