Nathan Schlicher, a Democrat from Gig Harbor, is the better choice for the 26th Legislative District Senate race to replace Derek Kilmer, who was elected to Congress.
Schlicher, a 30-year-old emergency-room doctor and a lawyer, was a quick study as a temporary replacement for Kilmer last session.
The Legislature’s only physician, he pushed through promising mental-health reform legislation and was an effective advocate on health policy.
He also kept an eye on his home district, pushing for infrastructure around Joint Base Lewis-McChord, efficiencies in the state ferry system and control over rising tolls on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.
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His opponent, Rep. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard, has a solid résumé as a businesswoman, former Kitsap County commissioner and state representative. But she lacks Schlicher’s moderate instincts. If elected, Angel’s conservative ideology might empower the unhelpful, far-right fringe of the Senate Republican caucus.
Although experienced, she has shown gaps in her knowledge, seemingly confusing the state’s paid family leave policy with the effects of the similarly named federal policy. She also opposes any new gas tax to fund a transportation package.
With the Republican-dominated Majority Coalition currently holding a one-vote edge, this election has become a proxy war for moneyed interests on both sides.
Schlicher tends to show more independence from such influence and met regularly with the Roadkill Caucus, comprising more moderate members of the Democratic caucus. To represent his district, he should embrace moderation.
The challenges ahead for the 2014 Legislature — full funding for education — require a legislator capable of creative compromise. Schlicher, by temperament and approach, is the better choice.