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The State of Washington is our 13th largest state.  With a population of 7.7 million it has a half million more people than Arizona, our 14th largest state, and 900,000 fewer people than Virginia, our 12th largest state.  Washington, like California, uses a non-partisan primary to select two finalists for a run off.  Finalists are the top two vote getters in the non-partisan primary regardless of their party (or the party they prefer which is the Washington usage).

 Neither the Governor nor any other state constitutional officers are up for election in 2022.  Washington has two Senators, like the other states in the US, and 10 members of Congress.   Senator Patty Murray, who is the focus of this piece is up for election.  Republican Tiffany Smiley is her only opponent.

 Washington has only one tight congressional race.   Currently, the delegation has 7 Democrats and 3 Republicans.  Can the  Democrats keep that margin?

 Kim Schrier (WA 08 EVEN) (Political Note #451) will be in a run off with one of three Republicans.  The website 538 describes the district as an exactly even toss-up between Republicans and Democrats.  Schrier has raised a substantial amount of money to compete.  We can expect that whoever comes in second in the nonpartisan primary could raise a considerable amount of money for the run off.

May 6th, 2022           Political Note #465  Patty Murray

2022                          General Election 

Patty Murray may have her hands full this year.  It is not so much that her most recent poll shows her leading by 9 points.  The problem is that previous polls showed her leading by 18 and then by 13.

Patty Murray was first elected to the US Senate in 1992.  The third most senior Democrat, she had no plans to be a politician. She grew up in a middle-class family.  When her father developed multiple sclerosis, the family needed welfare to get by.

 Patty Murray graduated from Washington State with a degree in physical education and a husband who she met in college.  He joined the Coast Guard and later went on to work loading cargo onto ships.  Eventually, he mastered computers early in our reliance on them and made a career as a computer systems director.

Patty Murray taught pre-school, worked with pre-school parents, and taught parenting at a local community college. She was an advocate for education and for the environment. Famously, she was unintentionally energized by a state rep she lobbied who told her she would not make a difference, “she was just a “mom in tennis shoes.”

Patty Murray decided to make a difference.  She ran for the local school board and won.  After four years, she ran and defeated an incumbent state senator, a Boeing engineer who had served two terms in the state senate. After a single term, using the “mom in tennis shoes” story she ran for the US Senate and was elected.

 How did she do that?  How did Patty Murray get elected to the US Senate after a term as a state senator?  How did she get elected to the US Senate without significant resources of her own?

Sex had something to do with it.  1992 got dubbed as the year of the woman as five Democratic women were elected to the US Senate.  In Washington, the incumbent Senator, Brock Adams, did not run for reelection for reasons related to sex. In 1987, he had been accused by a Senate aide of sexual assault.  The US Attorney refused to prosecute after denigrating the victim’s value as a witness.  Several women decided to wait with their complaints. They timed their complaints to the period before the 1992 election.  Those claims drove Brock out of the race and created an opening for Patty Murray.

 Sex did not affect the primary, but it did affect the general election. In the non-partisan primary Patty Murray led the pack with 28% of the vote.  Republican Congressman Rod Chandler, who had been second in the non-partisan primary had already damaged himself three years earlier. He had acknowledged that he was a recovered alcoholic.  Disastrous sexist statements during the campaign finished him off.

 In a debate, responding to Patty Murray’s comment about his congressional mailings, he quoted a song to her. ″Dang me, dang me. You ought to take a rope and hang me. Hang me from the nearest tree. Woman, would you weep for me?″  He did not seem to be taking Patty Murray seriously.

During the campaign, Patty Murray visited a hospital and recalled her father’s multiple sclerosis and her mother’s heart surgery. Chandler remarked “I’m all tears, but she hasn’t said anything specific about health care reform.”  He compounded his statement by questioning Patty Murray’s ability to understand complex problems. Chandler seemed incapable of taking a woman opponent seriously.  Patty Murray won the run-off by 8 points.

Sex as an issue continued. Fairly early in her tenure, Patty Murray wrested a public apology from Republican Senator Strom Thurmond for “excessive touching.” As for dealing with complex problems, she established herself as a serious Congressional figure when she negotiated a budget in 2006 with Paul Ryan setting out a model for Congressional cooperation.

Operating from role as chair of the Health, Education, and Labor Committee, her chairmanship of the matching Appropriation Committee subcommittee, and her roles on the budget and veterans committee, Patty Murray has been an achiever

Described by the Washington press as a “work horse” rather than a “show horse” and as tenacious, Patty Murray introduced and passed legislation to support health care ranging from medical labeling to support for poison control centers to ensuring that rape victims are offered emergency contraception.

Patty Murray has been an advocate for the environment – both on climate change issues and in environmental legislation.  She was able to take home legislation that protected wilderness lands in Washington, a farm bill improving safety for farm workers and support for her state’s fruit and vegetable growers. Early in her tenure, she helped pass the Violence Against Women Act.

Among her education contributions was the development of “multiple pathways’ to success for high school students including strengthening vocational schools.  Her particular interest for veterans was with those who suffered from traumatic stress disorder. She ensured increased funding and volunteered personally with affected veterans.

In 2022, Patty Murray has to take make certain she is not a veteran politician picked off by a surprise candidate.  Washington Republicans have a surprise candidate waiting for her.  Tiffany Smiley is the only Republican running.  Despite a poll showing a substantial minority of Washingtonians preferring that Patty Murray not run for a sixth term as US Senator, there was no pack of Republicans running for the office.  Tiffany Smiley and her supporters cleared the field.

Smiley was born in Pasco Washington.  A high school athlete, she attended Columbia Basin College for two years and finished at Whitworth College, a Christian school.  She graduated with a nursing degree, married after graduation, and worked as an obstetrics and gynecological triage nurse.

One report said her childhood aspirations were both to be a nurse and a motivational speaker.  Whether or not that report was accurate, she became a motivational speaker as well as a nurse. She has a moving story to tell, effective for a motivational speaker and for a politician.

Smiley’s high school boyfriend and later husband, Scotty Smiley, graduated from West Point with plans for a military career.  Both their lives were transformed by a car bomb in Mosul.  He was blinded by the bomb and suffered additional injuries. Another consequence of that bomb was depression.

Tiffany Smiley’s story has two parts – her fight with the Veteran’s Administration including her refusal to sign discharge papers for her husband and her support for her husband who eventually remained in the military as the army’s only blind officer.

Now forty, Tiffany Smiley came to public notice as a motivational speaker – telling people in the world that hires motivational speakers that if, they recognize their “superpower” and recognize their life’s purpose, they can overcome adversity.  They can reach out to others to help them and be helped by them. They can achieve by “moving bravely forward for results.”

Tiffany Smiley’s story about defying the VA, refusing to sign her husband’s discharge papers, is a story that Republicans and Democrats, people from the corporate world and the non-profit world can appreciate.

Smiley’s politics are unlikely to be attractive to Democrats or even to independents.  Consider her views on abortion. In October, 2021, she said she supported the Texas abortion law; she approved their ban of virtually all abortions and an enforcement system that relied on citizen lawsuits. Later, Smiley retreated.  Texas “went completely overboard.”  She could not support that.

Now, she mentions her experience as an ob-gyn nurse working with pregnant girls.  She would tell them that “keeping your child shouldn’t be a ticket to poverty or not getting an education.”  She says we should work together to find a common-sense solution that will appeal to Republicans and to mothers who would never have voted for Trump.

Let me ask.  Based on that statement, does Smiley believe women should have the right to choose an abortion or does she believe that abortion should be prohibited?  Or does she believe in not telling us her beliefs?

In general, Smiley supports fewer regulations.  She is unclear about when regulations are required and when they are not.  She condemned Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan as outrageous spending.  Asked what she would cut for the plan or from current spending, she did not answer.

Respect Smiley’s story. Fear her politics.  Welcome Patty Murray’s political views and respect her achievements.  Patty Murray is prepared for this contest.  She started April with $7.8 million.  She’ll need more.  Her opponent, with a slew of corporate connections and Republican party support for what they believe could be a surprise Republican victory, has enough money to compete.  She entered April with $2.5 million.  The Washington Senate race could develop into one of the big money races.


Polls are from the website 538. Finances are from Open Secrets and are also available at the FEC website. The financial information does not take into account outside funding, by PACs, for instance.


Vulnerable Democratic Incumbents

  1. Georgia:
    1. An A rated poll on April 27 showed Incumbent Democrat Raphael Warnock (Political Note #379)leading by 5 points. This was the first poll showing him leading. An A- rated poll on April 3 showed trailing former UGA football star Republican Herschel Walker 49-45.
    2. Open secrets reported that Warnock had $22.9 available for campaigning on April 1 and Herschel Walker had $7.4 available on that date.
  2. Arizona:
    1. A B rated poll on January 24 showed Incumbent Democrat Mark Kelly (Political Note #387) leading State Attorney General Mark Brnovitch 49-47. No Republican still in the race was tested.
    2. Open secrets reported that Kelly had $23.3 million available for campaigning on April 1. Among Republicans, millionaire executive Jim Lamon had $7.1 million, Blake Masters, funded by a billionaire, had $2.2 million. Mark Brnovitch had $500,000.
  3. New Hampshire
    1. A B- rated poll on April 18 showed incumbent Democrat Maggie Hassan (Political Note #359) leading three of the Republican candidates, two by a point, one by 6 points, and trailing the State Senate President Chuck Morse by 2 points. Earlier polls showed her leading all Republican candidates.
    2. Open Secrets reported that Hassan had $7.6 million available for campaigning on April 1. Morse had $740,000, Town Manager Kevin Smith had $400,000, Bolduc had $380,000.
  4. Nevada
    1. A B/C rated poll on April 9 showed Incumbent Catherine Cortez Masto (Pollitical Note #365) leading both former Attorney General Adam Laxalt and Army veteran Sam Brown by 8 points.  Previous polls have also shown Cortez Masto leading.
    2. Open Secrets reported that Cortez Masto had $11 million available for campaigning on April 1.Laxalt had $2.2 million, Brown had $680,000.

Two Democratic incumbents not as vulnerable as the top four

  1. Colorado
    1. An unrated poll on April 8 showed incumbent Michael Bennet (Political Note #457) leading Businessman Gino Campana by 6 points
    2. Open Secrets reported that Bennet had $6.1 million available for campaigning on April 1. Republicans Gio Campana and Joe O’Dea had $600,000.
  2. Washington
    1. An A- rated poll on February 18 showed incumbent Patty Murray (Political Note #464) leading Veterans’ Advocate Tiffany Smiley by 9 points
    2. Open Secrets reported that Murray had $7.8 million available for campaigning on April 1.  Republican Smiley had $2.5 million

Strong Democratic Challenges

  1. North Carolina
    1. An A- rated poll on April 4 showed former state Chief Justice Cheri Beasley (Political Note #434) leading three Republicans by single digits but trailing former governor Pat McCrory by 2 points.  A previous poll showed her even with McCrory while leading the other candidates.
    2. Open Secrets reported that Beasley had $5.1 million available for campaigning on April 1. McCrory and Budd had about $2 million each.
  2. Ohio
    1. No polls are available for Ohio in 2022 or even in the fall of 2021.
    2. Open Secrets reported that Democratic Congressman Tim Ryan (Political Note #392) had $6.4 million available for campaigning on April 1. Several Republicans have at least $3 million and Trump’s endorsement of JD Vaughn may have given him the edge in the Republican primary.
  3. Pennsylvania
    1.  No interparty polls are available for Pennsylvania in 2022. Polls for the Democratic party show Lt. Governor John Fetterman (Political Note #433) with a substantial lead. Who will emerge in the Republican primary is unclear.
    2. Open Secrets reported that Fetterman had $4.1 million available for campaigning on April 1. Mehmet Oz had $2.5 million.  Other candidates had a million or two.
  4. Wisconsin
    1. No interparty polls are available for Wisconsin in 2022. The most recent poll for the Democratic party primary shows Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes with a reduced lead.
    2. Open Secrets reported that Barnes had $1.6 million available for campaigning on April 1. State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski had $1.6 and millionaire Alex Lasry had a million dollars. County Executive Tom Nelson has less. Republican Incumbent Ron Johnson had $3.5 million.


Missouri is in a class by itself

  1. Missouri
    1. An A- rated poll on March 13 shows Marine Veteran and anti-corporate activist Lucas Kunce(Political Note #458) trailing Congresswoman Vicki Hartzler and Attorney General Eric Schmitt by double digits, but leading former Governor Eric Greitens by a point. Greitens, with a substantial following, could, nevertheless, win the Republican primary. It appeared that Lucas Kunce had cleared the field when Trudy Busch Valentine, heir to the Anheuser-Busch fortune, announced she was entering the race.
    2. Open Secrets reported that Kunce had just under $1 million available for campaigning on April 1. Busch Valentine will have as much as she wants to spend. The Republican candidates each had roughly between a million dollars and two million dollars.


Three races that could turn positive for the Democrats

  1. Florida
    1. A low rated poll in March showed Congresswoman Val Demings (Political Note #400) trailing Incumbent Republican Marco Rubio by 18 points. Earlier polls by more respected pollsters, showed her trailing by smaller amounts.  Are the double-digit polls accurate or outliers?
    2. Open Secrets reported that both Demings and Rubio had $13 million available for campaigning on April 1.
  2. Iowa
    1. A B+ rated poll on February 22 shows Former Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer (Political Note #413) trailing incumbent Republican Chuck Grassley by 14 points.
    2. Finkenauer appears to be the overwhelming favorite to win the Democratic primary though Retired Vice Admiral Michael Franken is a credible opponent.
    3. Open Secrets reported that Finkenauer had $780,000 available for campaigning on April 1 and Franken had $1 million. Grassley had $4.6 million
  3. Utah
    1. A B rated poll on March 21 shows Incumbent Republican Mike Lee leading Independent former CIA Agent Evan McMullin (Political Note #427) and Democratic former State Department official Kael Weston 43-19-11. An earlier poll showed McMullin only 10 points behind.
    2. Utah Democrats have now endorsed McMullin, taking Weston out of the race. The general election will be McMullin v Lee
    3. Open Secrets reported that McMullin had $850,000 available for campaigning on April 1 and Lee had $2.4 million.


Two races I would love to see turn against the Republicans

  1. Kentucky
    1. An A- rated poll on January 22 shows Activist Charles Booker (Political Note #408) trailing incumbent Republican Rand Paul by 16 points.
    2. Open Secrets reported that Booker had $500,000 available for campaigning on April 1. Paul had $8.6 million
  2. Oklahoma
    1. There are no polls for 2022 for this open Republican race.
    2. The FEC reported that former Democratic Congresswoman Kendra Horn (Political Note #193) had $370,000 available for campaigning on April 1. Congressman Markwayne Mullin had $2 million, Former Senate Aide Lucas Holland had $770,000. 

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