A week away from Election Day, the two candidates in the most closely watched legislative race of the year are busy making last-minute personal appeals to voters.
Democratic Sen. Nathan Schlicher and Republican Rep. Jan Angel are competing to be the next state Senator in the 26th District, which stretches from Bremerton to the Key Peninsula.
Between the two campaigns, they’ve rung more than 10,000 doorbells, dispatched hundreds of volunteers and made phone calls to scores of voters.
“It seemed like a calling when I decided to get involved as a citizen working on healthcare issues,” Schlicher explained to a voter as he made phone calls from his campaign headquarters in Gig Harbor.
A few minutes later, Schilcher grinned and gave a thumbs up — the person on the other line was a Republican who agreed to vote for the Democratic candidate.
At her campaign headquarters in Port Orchard, Angel showed off her new white tennis shoes before heading out to ring doorbells.
“You’ve got to walk it to win it,” Angel said as she power-walked through a neighborhood with a fistful of flyers. One person who answered the door said she’d already voted for Angel, and another pledged support.
TVW recently followed the candidates for a day and spoke with them about their priorities if elected. It will air on Oct. 30 at 7 & 10 p.m. on “The Impact.” (UPDATE: The video is now available online here.)
The race has big implications in the state Senate, which is controlled by a coalition of 23 Republicans and two conservative Democrats. A victory by Angel would shift more power to the coalition. If Schlicher wins, the balance of power would stay the same, but it would be easier for Democrats to recapture the chamber in the future.
The candidates discussed their positions on issues that will be central in the upcoming legislative session, including transportation and education funding.
Schlicher said he would support a transportation package if it included funding for the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and the ferry system. “We are functionally an island with the bridge on the south and ferries to the east,” he said.
Schlicher said he may support a gas tax “depending on what it looked like,” but said he had concerns about how it might impact the district’s residents.
Angel said she does not support a gas tax. She said she wants to look for transportation funding within existing revenue, or explore other options such as vehicle sales taxes.
“Vehicles are made for roads, roads are made for vehicles,” Angel said. “But yet transportation gets only .03 percent” of the vehicle sales taxes. “I want to look at that and see why.”
Both candidates said they don’t believe the Legislature did enough to fund education under the McCleary requirements.
Schlicher said he believes the education budget this year was “balanced on the backs of teachers,” who will not get cost-of-living pay increases through the 2015 school year. For the third time, lawmakers also suspended Initiative 732, which guarantees pay increases for teachers.
Angel said the Legislature made a good inroad on education funding, but she wants to speed up the process. McClearly calls for full education funding by 2018. “We don’t want to miss a whole generation because we don’t have education properly funded,” she said.