In 2016, the Daily News editorial board endorsed Republican Jim Walsh over Democrat Teresa Purcell. Cowlitz County had a long history of sending Democrats to Olympia, and Purcell was the favorite. But we argued Walsh would better defend our interests, especially by opposing a state income tax and protecting our Second Amendment rights. In that election, Cowlitz County flipped from blue to red, supporting Donald Trump for President and narrowly sending Walsh to Olympia.
Trump, gun control, and taxes probably all had something to do with Walsh’s upset victory. Another logical factor was that this area has had a front-row seat to the downside of being a rural area in a blue state. On Election Day 2016, Millennium’s proposed coal export plant had already spent more than four years being slow-walked through a tangle of studies, appeals, lawsuits, moving goalposts and unique standards. In late 2017, Cowlitz County Superior Court Judge Stephen Warning even ruled that a state agency acted in an “arbitrary and capricious” manner by rejecting Millennium’s request to sublease state aquatic lands. It is one of several major industrial proposals being subjected to onerous delaying tactics.
Nationally, Democrats have a very urban-focused mindset. At the state level, Democrats have a very Seattle-focused mindset. It is not a mindset that places a high priority on large, job-creating businesses in places like Cowlitz County. Erin Frasier is a fine candidate with good ideas. So was Teresa Purcell. But just as in 2016, sending another Democrat to Olympia in 2018 would only further empower an agenda that sees Cowlitz County as an environmental danger zone where jobs must be sacrificed to meet the threats.
We don’t have the opportunity to vote directly on who leads the state Department of Ecology, or the many other state and federal agencies involved in this long process. What we can vote on is whether we want to send someone to Olympia to tell the Democratic majority that we want jobs. Kicking Jim Walsh out of office now would say the opposite. This is our opportunity to tell Olympia that our economic future is a worthy cause, and that we know we are not being treated fairly.