State Rep. Jan Angel won her re-election bid handily last week, then wasted little time this week staking her claim to a higher office.
On Tuesday – just a week after taking more than 59 percent of the vote to earn her third term in the Washington State House of Representatives — the 26th District Republican announced she was a candidate for the Senate seat being vacated by Derek Kilmer, who on election night captured the seat in Congress occupied for 36 years by the retiring Norm Dicks.
Because Kilmer’s current term in the state Senate runs through 2014, a special election will be held next November to select a replacement for the final year of that term, and Angel announced she will be a candidate.
In the meantime, the 26th District Democrats will offer a slate of possibilities to replace Kilmer in the Senate for the 2013 session, and the winner will be chosen by the Pierce and Kitsap County commissioners, since the district includes portions of both counties.
Angel agreed it was a little unorthodox to announce just a week after winning one office that you’re a candidate for another, but noted that few of her constituents would be surprised by the news.
“I haven’t made any secret of my plans,” she said. “Whenever anyone asked, I’ve always said I’d like to run for the Senate if the opportunity came along. Now it’s come along.”
Until Kilmer actually won his seat in the Congress, there was no point in making a formal announcement, Angel said. But now that he has, “There’s no point in not having that conversation.”
Angel said her decision wasn’t based on calculations of how many seats it would take for Republicans to take control of the state Senate and wasn’t even sure what the current balance of power looks like.
In fact, assuming incumbent Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, prevails in the expected manual recount for his seat in the 17th District (he currently leads by 105 votes), a win next year by Angel would shave the Democrats’ advantage in the Senate to a single vote, 55-54.
Given the razor-thin margin and the reality that a handful of fiscally moderate Democrats crossed the aisle last spring to pass a Republican-sponsored budget in Senate, the prospect of exchanging Kilmer’s reliably liberal vote for a solid conservative like Angel has both sides eagerly eyeing the coming race.
Among Democrats expected to be nominated to fill Kilmer’s seat for the coming year, meanwhile, the list includes:
- District party chairman Gerry Baldwin, a Gig Harbor consultant and retired airline pilot;
- Port Orchard City Councilman Fred Chang, who does public information work for the Department of Transportation;
- Mark Hoppen, a former Gig Harbor councilman and city administrator;
- Carl Olson, of Port Orchard, a retired teacher and the former chairman of the Kitsap County Democratic Party;
- Nathaniel Schlicher, an emergency room doctor who is also a lawyer; and,
- Gig Harbor police officer Mike Allen.
For her part, Angel said she will continue her work for a top-notch education system, funding education first as our priority.
“All of this must be done under a balanced, sustainable budget,” she said. “And that means having a conversation across the aisle that will yield bipartisan solutions.”
Angel served for eight years in local government as a Kitsap County commissioner, and has spent two terms in the House, including service as ranking member of the Local Government Committee and two years each on Early Learning and Children’s Services, K-12 Education Policy, Higher Education, Transportation and Rules Committee.