A great race in the 10th District | Editorial

One of the most interesting political races in state government will take place this fall in the 10th Legislative District, which includes all of Island and parts of Skagit and Snohomish counties.

On one side we have Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island, whose job title seemingly contains the word “powerful,” as she is often referred to as chairwoman of the powerful Senate Transportation Committee.

Haugen was first elected in 1982 as a State Representative and then moved up to the Senate in the election of 1992.

She has the experience advantage over her 2012 challenger, Rep. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor. But Bailey has been around plenty long enough to know the lawmaking  ropes, having first been elected in 2002.

As Haugen finishes her 30th year in office in 2012, Bailey will be finishing her 10th.

Bailey has always been part of the minority in the Legislature, which is dominated by Democrats. She can’t claim having spearheaded any major legislative victories or landed any economic development plums for Island County. That’s really not possible from a minority position. But neither does it translate into lack of supporters in her district.

In fact, in Haugen’s last two election, 2004 and 2008, she has attracted fewer votes than Bailey. True, they weren’t running against each other and there were many variables, but the hard numbers show that in 2008 Haugen received 21,444 votes while Bailey collected more at 21,675. Four years earlier, the totals were Haugen 19,789 and Bailey 20,399. They beat their respective opponents, but the numbers suggest Bailey will be a very formidable opponent for Haugen in 2012.

One further advantage for Bailey is the recently completed legislative redistricting. The 10th District gained a few thousand Republican-leaning voters in Skagit County, and that’s not good news for Haugen. Bailey saw her chance to move up the legislative ladder and grabbed it.

Haugen has been a powerful force for good in Island County over the decades, particularly in funding highways, ferries and public transportation districts.

Bailey has spent the years preaching for less spending in almost all areas of government and fewer taxes, and her voting record generally shows she means business.

It’s impossible to predict an outcome, but 10th District voters, whether Democrat of Republican, will have a fine candidate to side with in November. That’s exactly the  way the system should work.






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