Tiffany Smiley has two new ads in her campaign to oust Sen. Patty Murray from the U.S. Senate.

In one, Smiley stands in front of a Seattle elementary school.

In the other, Smiley stands in front of a shuttered Seattle coffee shop.

In so doing, Smiley, a Pasco Republican, becomes the latest in a long line of Republicans to use Seattle and its woes — actual or perceived — as a means to win statewide or suburban office.

The state Republican Party has long pointed at Seattle as a cautionary example, trying to paint suburban, rural and statewide Democrats as one of a kind with Seattle progressives.

Smiley’s ads use Seattle backdrops to make arguments about COVID-era school closures and urban crime.


In one, she stands in front of an image of the shuttered Starbucks on East Olive Way in Capitol Hill.

“These doors are closed because it’s too dangerous to ask employees to work here anymore,” Smiley says, going on to blame Murray for shortages, inflation and crime. There is so much crime, she says, that “you can’t even get a cup of coffee from the hometown shop on Capitol Hill.”

Five Starbucks locations remain on Capitol Hill, three of them inside grocery stores, all within a handful of blocks of the shuttered location.

Starbucks cited crime and safety concerns when it shut down five Seattle stores, including the one on Olive Way, in July. The shop on Olive Way also happened to be recently unionized, which union members cited as the reason for its closing.

“Hey Tiffany, Analog Coffee is a block away,” Alex Koren, a communications consultant who’s worked for Democrats wrote on Twitter. “Also there’s some awesome bars in the area that I walk to alone at night as an out trans woman.”

Murray is also airing television ads across the state in a race where both candidates have proven to be prolific fundraisers.


Murray, a Democrat who’s held the seat for 30 years, has raised more than $14 million and is running a campaign focused largely on health care and abortion rights.

Outside groups have begun to spend in the race as well. Women Vote, a super PAC from EMILY’s List, a national group that supports Democratic women, has spent more than $2 million on Murray’s behalf, and Our American Century, a conservative pro-Trump super PAC funded largely by casino mogul Steve Wynn, has spent $500,000 for Smiley.

A new Murray ad features a woman from Texas who says she “had to travel 14 hours for reproductive health care” because of her state’s strict abortion ban. It cites Smiley’s past comments supportive of the Texas law.

“Republicans are already trying to ban abortion nationwide,” the woman says. “They need Tiffany Smiley in the Senate to do it.”

Smiley describes herself as “pro-life” but says abortion should be decided at the state level. She has said she would vote against a national abortion ban.

Smiley, a first-time candidate, has raised more than $7 million for a campaign focusing largely on inflation and public safety issues.


Her other new ad highlights comments Murray made a few weeks ago, when she declined to second-guess whether it was a mistake to keep schools closed for so long during the pandemic.

“This was a decision of local school officials and our scientific experts, trying to get their hands around a pandemic,” Murray said earlier this month. “We were under unprecedented times at that point.”

In the ad, Smiley stands in front of a “welcome back” sign outside Green Lake Elementary School, and cites reports of plummeting test scores and rising child anxiety during the pandemic.

A recent federal study of test scores for 9-year-olds since the pandemic found the largest decrease in reading scores in 30 years and the first-ever decrease in math scores.

“While they fell behind, Patty Murray championed school closures and still fails to acknowledge her mistake,” Smiley says.

But using the Seattle elementary school as a backdrop didn’t sit well with some here, where Democrats can draw upward of 90% of votes in federal elections.


The state Democratic Party on Thursday convened a group of mothers with children at Green Lake Elementary, where the ad was filmed. They credited Murray for Democratic COVID aid legislation that brought millions in aid to schools and criticized Smiley for proposals to shrink the Department of Education and steer funding away from public schools.

Smiley’s education proposals include “expanding school choice,” in which state-funded vouchers can pay for private schools, and raising teacher salaries by making cuts at the Department of Education.

“She is anti-public school and she is just saying what people want to hear so that she can win votes,” said Jessie Alan, who has two third graders in the school.

Smiley’s campaign responded that Murray is “anti-science, anti-student and anti-parent.”

“She refuses to admit it was wrong to keep our children out of schools for nearly two years,” Elisa Carlson, a Smiley spokesperson, said.

Smiley’s ads, highlighting Seattle, are subtler and less vitriolic but continue a long tradition among previous Republican candidates.

Last year, in a County Council race in northeast King County, the Republican sent mailers portraying her Democratic opponent as a marionette, with puppet masters from Seattle.


In a 2017 race for an Eastside state Senate seat that would decide control of the state Senate — the most expensive legislative race in state history — the Republican ran ads featuring the Seattle mayor and City Council, claiming her Democratic opponent was “trying to force their Seattle values on the Eastside.”

The state Republican Party’s first ad of 2020 featured images of urban protests and fires contrasted with bucolic suburban scenes. “Our homes and businesses are no longer safe,” it said, flashing pictures of then-Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan.

And in 2020, then-President Donald Trump used images of Seattle and Portland as grist for his national campaign, warning that the disruptive 2020 protests here were a harbinger of what’s to come in “Joe Biden’s America.”