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Democratic Primary in Washington State Becomes More Intense With Prominent Endorsements

Democratic primary in Washington heats up (Credits: The Hill)

A highly contested Democratic House primary in Washington’s Olympic Peninsula is garnering national attention, with numerous state elected officials taking sides in the race.

State Senator Emily Randall (D) and Washington State Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz (D) are vying to succeed retiring Representative Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.), who has endorsed Franz. However, Randall has secured a huge endorsement from Senate President Pro Tempore Patty Murray (D-Wash.), an unusual move in a primary.

The primary’s outcome is likely to hinge on name recognition and the candidates’ profiles. A recent poll conducted for Randall’s campaign showed Franz, a statewide elected official, with a slim lead among Democratic respondents within the survey’s margin of error.

State Senator Emily Randall (Credits: Washington Senate Democrats –

Nevertheless, when respondents were informed about both candidates’ personal histories, Randall gained a substantial lead. While local polling, especially in primaries, can be unreliable, Randall’s campaign is encouraged by the results, which suggest a path to victory in the August 6 primary.

A Known Quantity: Randall Triumphs in Competitive State Senate Races

Endorsements are playing a crucial role in the Democratic primary, with Murray’s backing of Randall being a huge factor. Murray leads Kilmer by double digits in both name recognition and favorability.

Before Murray’s endorsement, Representatives Marilyn Strickland and Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, from neighboring Washington districts, had already sided with Randall. These endorsements are particularly noteworthy, as Strickland’s district shares the Tacoma metropolitan area with Kilmer’s, and Democrats are not guaranteed a win in either Kilmer’s nor Gluesenkamp Perez’s districts.

Randall, who grew up in the district, has won tight contests for her state Senate seat in 2018 and 2022 and is basing her campaign on her ability to connect with the area’s libertarian and independent voters. Franz’s role as the statewide official in charge of fighting forest fires, among other duties, has built goodwill among groups such as Native American tribes and firefighters’ unions.

Washington State Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz (Credits: Northwest Progressive Institute)

Kilmer has openly supported Franz, and in a December interview, Franz revealed that Kilmer had called her before announcing his retirement to gauge her interest in the seat. Franz’s campaign manager, Eve Zhurbinskiy, emphasized that the campaign is confident in their lead and has more cash on hand than Randall’s entire campaign has raised.

Despite this, Murray’s endorsement of Randall has drawn attention, as sitting senators rarely intervene in primaries. Murray’s office highlighted Randall’s origins in the district and her commitment to women’s rights and healthcare.

The Democratic primary in Washington’s 6th District may have implications for control of the House after November and has already drawn attention from national groups like Bold PAC, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’s campaign arm.

In Washington’s “jungle primaries,” Franz and Randall will compete against two Republicans in August, and the top two candidates will advance to the general election in November. The outcome of this closely watched primary will have big consequences for the district and potentially the balance of power in the House.

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