The Service Employees International Union 775 has responded to our report in this morning's Fizz; we DISLIKED that the progressive Service Employees International Union 775 endorsed state senate GOP budget lead Sen. Andy Hill, R-45, Kirkland. Fizz doesn't like Hill for reasons like this (cutting social services) and this (adding tax breaks) and this (misleading voters; here's the response he gave us to that charge.).

 Hill is one of the Republicans that Democrats have targeted in five key races to try and win back the senate.

Some musical chairs—Democratic Sen. Tracey Eide is retiring in the 30th and Republican-voting Democratic Sen. Rodney Tom is retiring in the 48th—puts the current divide at 23 safe-ish Democrats and 21 strong Republicans—with five races in play.

That means the Democrats need to win two of the five races (while holding the safe-ish 44th District, Sen. Steve Hobbs' seat) to get the 25-24 advantage. And the GOP needs four wins. (I'm counting Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-35, as a Republican because he caucuses with the Republican-led Majority Coalition Caucus and votes with the Republicans.)

We like Matt Isenhower, and particularly appreciate that as a former fast food executive he supports raising the minimum wage, but our members believed that Andy Hill had strongly earned our support based on his work with us in the legislature over the last several years.—SEIU 775

That pro-Democratic numbers spin—two wins needed vs. four—is offset by the fact that the Republican candidates in these key races had much stronger showings than their Democratic rivals in this month's top-two primary. In suburban Spokane's 6th Legislative District, Republican incumbent Sen. Michael Baumgartner beat Democratic challenger Rich Cowan 57.23 to 42.77. In Tacoma/Lakewood's 28th Legislative District incumbent Republican Sen. Steve O'Ban beat state Rep. Tami Green 56.23 to 43.77. In Federal Way and Auburn's 30th Legislative District, Republican Mark Miloscia beat Democrat Shari Song 56.9 to 43.1. In the Bellingham area's 42nd Legislative District, incumbent Republican Sen. Doug Ericksen beat Seth Fleetwood 56.94 to 43.06. 

And that leaves the 45th Legislative Disrtict, the race in the Microsoft suburbs where the Democrats seem to have the best chance. Democratic challenger Matt Isenhower, an Amazon manager and Navy vet, posted the best numbers of any Democrat. He got 46.21 (the only Democrat to crack 45) to Hill's 53.79. 

Here's what SEIU, which has endorsed Green, Song, Fleetwood, and Cowan, told PubliCola about its Hill endorsement, which we flagged as a threat to SEIU and labor priorities such as raising the minimum wage, protecting social service funding, and preventing GOP "reforms" to workers' compensation.

We have a long history of our members building relationships with legislators in both parties to support quality care for seniors and people with disabilities and quality jobs for long-term care workers, and we have always endorsed incumbents based not on political party but on their willingness to work with us and our members to advance these issues.

Since his election in 2010 Andy Hill has worked closely with us on a variety of issues important to our members and their consumers, including helping to protect health benefits for home care workers at private agencies, working to fund significant improvements in wages and benefits for home care workers across the state, and this year leading the effort – along with Tami Green in the House – to implement part of the Affordable Care Act (known as the Community First Choice Option) to draw down additional federal funds to improve home and community based long-term care services, including significantly reducing the waiting list for services for people with developmental disabilities. We met with and interviewed both candidates.

We like Matt Isenhower, and particularly appreciate that as a former fast food executive he supports raising the minimum wage, but our members believed that Andy Hill had strongly earned our support based on his work with us in the legislature over the last several years.

Footnote: Despite the GOP numbers and the fact that the Republican candidates, mostly incumbents, have the built-in name ID advantage in these races, there are certainly some positive Democratic angles. Three of the districts lean Democratic—the 28th, the 30th, and the 45th. (And in the 42nd, a strong anti-coal train movement may help the Fleetwood.) Also, the primary featured a stunningly low turnout (which hurts Democrats); a different electorate in the general could mean a different outcome.

Democratic interest groups also spent very little money in the primary. Of course, this highlights SEIU's pro-hill move; the Democrats need traditional Democratic Party interest groups, like SIEU 775, to pony up for independent expenditure campaigns against Republicans like Hill. That check will not be forthcoming in the key Hill/Isenhower race.

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