Our endorsements in 28th District legislative races

Republicans have been trying to reclaim House seats in the 28th Legislative District since 2004, with no success. They think that redistricting – and an open seat – might help them do it this time around.

The 28th – which stretches from West Tacoma through University Place and Lakewood to DuPont – was redistricted to pick up some of Joint Base Lewis-McChord and surrounding communities. That could make the district slightly more Republican-leaning.

Troy Kelley, the three-term Democratic incumbent in House Position 1, is vacating the seat to run for state auditor. Two Republicans are hoping to replace him – attorney Steve O’Ban of Tacoma and real estate agent Ken Campbell of University Place. They’re running in the Aug. 7 primary against Democrat Eric Choiniere, a customer service representative and member of the University Place City Council.

Since the top two vote-getters will advance to the Nov. 6 general election, Choiniere – as the sole Democrat – is virtually assured of making it through. Campbell is a solid candidate, but we think O’Ban would be the stronger opponent against Choiniere.

O’Ban has lived in the district for 40 years and, as a business owner employing 25 people, has a solid grasp of the issues facing job providers and the effect legislation has on them. Although he has a reputation as a cultural conservative, he’s well-acquainted with the problems of the less fortunate: He volunteers at a legal clinic, serves on the Rescue Mission board and has done volunteer work on the Yakama Indian Reservation.

In the House Position 2 race, two Lakewood Republicans are hoping to prevent Democratic incumbent Tami Green from getting a fifth term: nonprofit manager Malcolm Russell and consultant Paul Wagemann.

Wagemann has name recognition in the district, having been elected to the Clover Park School District board. But he lost to Green two years ago. Perhaps it’s time to go in a different direction.

We think Russell – a more moderate Republican than Wagemann – is the stronger choice against Green in this swing district. He may be new to elective politics, but not to community service. He’s chairman of the Pierce County Planning Commission and has served with the Lakewood Public Safety Advisory Committee as well as several other community groups.

Russell is a bright, articulate up-and-comer. He’d make a good case to district voters for replacing Green, an incumbent who has adhered closely to organized labor’s agenda.

The 28th District Senate race between the incumbent, Republican Mike Carrell, and Democratic challenger Yoshie Wong will be decided in November.

 • Coming Thursday: Endorsements in two 30th Legislative District races.

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