Local Election

Incumbent Democrat who represents Bellingham leads in state House race

Incumbent Rep. Kristine Lytton, D-Anacortes, is busy this campaign season, between running for a third term representing Washington’s 40th Legislative District and preparing for what will be a challenging 2015 legislative session.

Her Republican challenger, Friday Harbor antique-shop owner Daniel Miller, is busy just trying to play catch-up after losing the Aug. 5 primary to Lytton, 35 percent to 65 percent. The way Miller sees it, he actually won the “top-two” primary, as he was one of two candidates to advance to the general election. Lytton and Miller were the only two choices on the ballot.

Reached by phone Wednesday, Oct. 8, during a busy week of candidate forums, Miller pointed out that he “did really well” in Skagit County, where he got 43 percent of the vote. In his home county of San Juan, which is predominantly Democrat, Miller received 28 percent of the vote. In Whatcom County, he had 29 percent.

The underdog in this race for a state seat that represents south Bellingham, Lake Whatcom neighborhoods and southwest Whatcom County said he isn’t concentrating his campaigning where he didn’t fare well.

“I’m treating this like a brand new campaign after winning the primary,” Miller said.

Lytton, a former Anacortes School Board president, spends 12 months a year working on state issues, especially education.

“We have a part-time citizen Legislature,” Lytton said. “I have the ability to do this full time.”

Education will loom large in 2015, when legislators write the 2015-17 budget while confronting a state Supreme Court order to give billions of dollars more to K-12 schools.

The representative said she has been working with Democrats and Republicans in both houses to come up with a solution to the McCleary decision, as the Supreme Court ruling is called.

“In forums what I’m hearing about is McCleary,” Lytton said on Wednesday, during a week in which she was attending a different candidate forum every day.

“I’m also hearing a lot of questions about, ‘How do we have a balanced budget, not just with the dollars but with the services we deliver?’” Lytton said.

Spending billions more on education while maintaining health and human services will require new “revenues,” Lytton said, which can be a less divisive way of saying “taxes.” House Republicans have consistently balked at raising taxes and support a “fund education first” budget that could result in cuts to some services.

“That’s what’s going to be interesting to see, how they roll out their budget,” Lytton said. “We have a lot of needs, and we don’t necessarily have the revenues to meet those needs.”

Emphasizing a particular social service, Miller said home-health care should be funded so people have the option of staying home instead of going into assisted living.

Miller would pay for a quality home-health program by eliminating waste elsewhere, he said. One of his highest priorities is ending the reservation system for the Anacortes-to-San Juan Islands ferry, which he called a “boondoggle.”

Miller wants to keep fuel and utility costs down, and spur job growth, particularly in manufacturing and movie production.

The 40th District provides a good backdrop for cinema, Miller said. “Especially Whatcom County, with the trees and the water in the road. It lends itself to suspense movies.”

As of Thursday, Oct. 9, Lytton had raised $77,678 for her campaign. Because her race isn’t competitive, she has spent less than $4,000 on voter outreach. She gave $30,000 to the House Democratic Campaign Committee, which has contributed to more competitive races and paid for polls, databases and the like.

On a small budget, Miller has been able to mail fliers to voters and get yard signs to supporters in Skagit and San Juan counties.

Miller doesn’t see himself at a disadvantage.

“I don’t think so because I’m doing hard work and shoe-leather politics, they call it,” he said. “The winds of change are favorable, and I believe I’m a serious candidate. I’m seriously asking for people’s votes, and I believe I have a serious chance of winning.”

Fundraising as of Friday, Oct. 10

Kristine Lytton — $77,678.20

Donors who gave Lytton’s campaign the maximum contribution ($1,900):

1) Association of Washington Spirits and Wine Distributors PAC

2) Campaign for Tribal Self-Reliance

3) Credit Union Legislative Action Fund

4) Delta Dental of Washington (dental insurance provider)

5) Democrats for Education Reform Washington PAC

6) Seattle investor Christopher Larson

7) Stand for Children PAC (education advocacy)

8) Washington State Dental PAC

Daniel Miller — $0*

* Miller is not required to report contributions because he said he will raise no more than $5,000.

Source: Public Disclosure Commission