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Morning Wire: Sen. Rebecca Saldaña, Incumbents who didn’t file, Our “new normal”

First, let me say thank you. I didn’t know what to expect when I announced last week that we were re-shaping our revenue model as a result of COVID. But the response from our readers has been very warm and generous. We’ll publish a full list of folks that are putting wind in our sails later this summer.

So, thank you very much for your support at the Wire, and for the honor of informing your work. Now, onto a few things we’re watching this week at the Wire.

With help from Michael Goldberg

1. Q&A: Sen. Rebecca Saldaña on the economic recovery she wants to see in Washington State

Senator Rebecca Saldaña, Deputy Majority Leader and Vice Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, was recently appointed to the bipartisan Senate long-term economic recovery committee. With expertise in areas including worker and immigrant advocacy, transportation equity, affordable housing and more, Saldaña’s presence in the committee could broaden its scope. Reporter Michael Goldberg called Saldaña to discuss the scope of the committee and the economic recovery she wants to see in Washington State.

“Our economy runs on two highways: internet and infrastructure. We need to show where the disparities are in terms of people’s access to high quality internet. We also need to reconsider how we think about plans to address congestion if more people transition to working from home after the pandemic. That is a place where we have opportunities for bipartisan work.”

2. Our “new normal”: how we are changing to respond to COVID

In 2017, we took over the Washington State Wire. Our approach was straightforward: build a nonpartisan platform for covering policy that is also unafraid to set aside the false equivalency of “both sides-ism.” It would be funded through event revenue rather than clickbait and impressions. 

We’ll see what December looks like as our 2020 Re-Wire Policy Conference rolls around, but it’s clear we need to diversify in this time of COVID. In the weeks ahead, we’ll do a few things to improve our site and hold ourselves more accountable you, which you can read more about here. We think we’ve built a good base of support among our readership, and we would be honored to have you put some wind in our sales through a financial contribution.

It’s truly an honor that you let us inform your thinking during a time of polarization. We’ll do the best we can to live up to the gift of your attention.

3. Every incumbent legislator who didn’t file for reelection

Candidates for office at the local, state, and federal level submitted their formal declarations of candidacy last week. The candidates who filed will appear on the August primary ballot. The Wire looked over the filing reports and compiled a list of incumbent legislators who didn’t file to run for reelection, along with candidates who filed to run for their seats.

All in all, 8 House Democrats and 7 House Republicans (including embattled Rep. Matt Shea) will forgo re-election. A few of these House members have their eyes on open seats in the Senate, statewide office, or Congress. There is less activity in the Senate as only 3 Republican incumbents chose not to file for reelection, with zero incumbent Democrats retiring (if you count newly-appointed June Robinson as an incumbent). Three senators not up for re-election are running for a different office: Fortunato, Brown, and Liias.

4.  Sen. David Frockt on what both sides need to recognize

Sen. David Frockt will chair the bipartisan Senate committee on long-term economic recovery, which is set to convene its first meeting in June. The Wire reached out to Sen. Frockt recently and he offered his take on the issues legislators on both sides of the aisle should keep in mind as the state’s economy enters recovery mode.

“I hope our Republican colleagues can start to understand that we can’t have long-term strength in the economy if people don’t have access to childcare. We can’t have long-term strength if health insurance is not truly affordable and there for people whatever the vicissitudes of the economy or the employer-based coverage they might have. We have to find a way to solve that conundrum because we have an unemployment crisis and we’re about to have a health insurance crisis. At the same time, I hope on my side of the aisle we can recognize that we need to think creatively about how to support entrepreneurs who put their life’s work into something and employ people. If that’s just wiped away, it has a huge impact on the economy.” 

5. Hobbs exits Lt. Gov race 

One of the early favorites in the primary to win the Lt. Governor race has dropped out of the race. Sen. Steve Hobbs’s has had his call up to the National Guard extended through summer. He leads the Guard’s “Task Force Olympic” command: “we have processed more than 11 million pounds of food, providing more than 9 million meals for Washingtonians in need, and have now begun implementing the state’s contact tracing program.

This reshapes the race significantly, giving Denny Heck a clear path in the more practical, moderate lane of the Democratic Party. Marko Liias is working to secure the left flank. Five Republicans have announced for the race, with two libertarians. Two other Dems filed, in addition to Heck and Liias. Given the crowded field and top-two primary, it’s possible these two strong Democratic candidates now move forward to the general where a few months ago, I posited it might be two Republicans.

6. Inslee isn’t on Biden’s climate change task force 

Keep this on your radar screen. Joe Biden announced six “Unity” task forces with former rival Bernie Sanders. This includes one devoted to developing policy related to climate change. Notably, Gov. Inslee was not on the list of task force members. However, in a recent interview of Inslee by Joe Biden on his campaign podcast, Biden said “You understand better than anyone that we have to take bold action” on climate change. 

Meanwhile, a group of former Inslee staffers, led by Sam Ricketts, has organized a new group called “Evergreen Action.” The group is trying to push the Biden camp towards “bold action” on climate. Inslee withheld his endorsement of Biden until late April

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