Politics Blog

UPDATE: Lytton, like challenger, focused on economic growth

I posted the following intro to Daniel Miller a few hours ago, and since then his opponent, incumbent Rep. Kristine Lytton, D-Anacortes, called to give me a sense of what she will work on in 2015 if elected to a third term:

Lytton was driving home from Eastern Washington when she returned my call (hands free, I don't doubt). She had been meeting with farmers to learn what the state Legislature could do to help their businesses.

Wine-grape growers told her transportation infrastructure was important to them.

In addition to hammering out an operational budget for 2015-17, the Legislature will try to put together capital and transportation budgets, too.

"Whether we have a revenue package (for transportation) or not, I don't know," Lytton said.

Lytton said she has also been traveling out of district in the interim between sessions to meet with other legislators, Democrat and Republican, representative and senator, to discuss education funding and reform. The Legislature is under pressure from the state Supreme Court to better fund K-12 education, to the tune of billions of dollars by 2018.

"That's going to be the focus (in 2015)," Lytton said. "This is our opportunity to get this right and hopefully set the course of education and policy for the next 20 or 25 years."

Lytton's policy background is in education, having served about six years on the Anacortes School Board. She has since expanded her body of work to include agriculture and the marine trades.

Both of these areas have potential for job growth in the state, Lytton said. And she said something very similar to what her opponent said in an interview (see below).

"What people are concerned about is, do they have a job and can they support their families? ... How do we keep people working?"

The Bellingham Herald is not extensively covering the two-person partisan races during primary election season. 

Due to a quirk in state elections law, candidates in all races where a party preference is given appear on the August primary ballot, even if only one (e.g., Dave McEachran, prefers Republican) or two candidates are running.

This creates a lot of extra work for campaigns, it would seem. Democrat Joy Monjure, who is the only challenger to incumbent Vincent Buys, R-Lynden, for a 42nd District House seat, said she was under pressure to raise money before primary ballots were out. (They were mailed by the county Auditor's Office on Friday, July 18.) Mike Estes, chairman of the Whatcom Democrats, told me the party was working hard on all three primaries in the 42nd, even though two of the three (Monjure vs. Buys, Dem Seth Fleetwood vs. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale) are two-person races.

"We're very much of the mindset that the primary will dictate where we will fall," Estes said. "We're treating it like a do-or-die race, and we take it very seriously."

With that in mind, I give you Daniel Miller, a Republican from Friday Harbor who would unseat two-term incumbent Kristine Lytton, a Democrat from Anacortes. Lytton won the Position 2 seat in Legislative District 40 (south Bellingham, southwest Whatcom County) after Dave Quall retired. Like Quall, Lytton -- a former Anacortes School Board president -- has focused on education.

Miller, if elected, said he would focus on jobs and the economy. Miller owns and runs New England Collectibles, a store in Friday Harbor. He took time out between customers on a busy summer day for a phone interview on Thursday morning, July 24.

With day-to-day costs on the rise, Miller said, "it's just getting harder and harder for families to make ends meet. I think the Legislature should try to be cognizant of that. In 2015, the next session, they’re going to try to raise the gas tax, or they’re going to try to charge by the mile. They’re going to make it more expensive to drive. I’m opposed to that."

Miller said he would also work on health-care issues, which are an interest of his, and education. His sister is a teacher in Whatcom County, he said.

Miller ran for the nonpartisan Port of Friday Harbor in 2013 and lost 84 percent to 16 percent. He also ran against Rep. Jeff Morris, D-Mount Vernon, in 1996. That was the year Morris took the 40th District House seat he still holds today. That race was closer for Miller than last year's run, with Morris winning 56.5 percent to 43.5 percent.

I called Lytton to ask her about her goals in 2015, if she is elected. I will add to this post when she returns my call.

Other coverage of Daniel Miller:

The Islands' Sounder

The Political Junkie