Two Democrats will challenge Rep. Norma Smith in 2020

  • Tuesday, August 20, 2019 5:36pm
  • News

Democratic candidates are getting an early start in their bid to replace two Republican state lawmakers from Island County in 2020.

Democrats Scott McMullen and Chris Reed are lining up to challenge Rep. Norma Smith, R-Clinton.

McMullen, a former Mount Vernon City Councilmember, ran against Smith in 2018. He won the primary by a little under 600 votes but wound up losing in the general election by roughly 3,100 votes.

When reached late last week, McMullen said the experience has given him confidence “that I know where I need to work on.”

“She’s not easy to beat,” he said. “It is going to be a lot of hard work.”

Reed, an Oak Harbor resident and owner of Barnavit Land Care, is contemplating his first run for elected office.

He said he’s ready to compete and talk about issues like health care and tackling the opioid crisis. He also said Friday that if a better Democratic candidate emerged, he’d consider deferring to them.

Smith, a former South Whidbey School Board member, won her House seat in 2008. She’s been re-elected five times.

While House Democrats failed to unseat Smith in 2018, they did succeed in knocking off her seatmate, Dave Hayes, a Republican from Camano Island, who works for the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Department.

Dave Paul, of Oak Harbor, an administrator at Skagit Valley College, edged Hayes by 685 votes, or less than 1 percent.

As of Aug. 16, no one had filed paperwork indicating their interest in running against Paul.

Meanwhile, Helen Price Johnson, of Clinton, an Island County commissioner, has launched a campaign to replace retiring Sen. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, for a four-year term representing the 10th District, which takes in parts of Snohomish, Skagit and all of Island County.

Price Johnson, who declared her candidacy Aug. 1, is in her third term on the board of commissioners.

“I am running because I think the community needs a senator that can represent the diversity of our community,” she said. “I wanted to get my oar in the water early. I want to be well-prepared and give myself plenty of time to be successful.”

Bailey won her Senate seat in 2012, defeating the incumbent Democrat, Mary Margaret Haugen, in one of the year’s most contentious legislative races. Bailey was re-elected in 2016. Prior to the Senate, Bailey served five terms in the House of Representatives representing the 10th District.

The filing period for the 2020 election cycle is next May.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@herald net.com. Twitter: @dospueblos.

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