Two female frontrunners in state Senate race for balance of power

It's one of the most competitive races of 2017--the race to fill the State Senate seat left open by the late Senator Andy Hill. KING 5's Natalie Brand looks at the frontrunners in the race and why this race is such a big deal.

It will likely be one of the most competitive Washington races of 2017, with the balance of power in the state Senate and Olympia at stake.

Two female candidates have emerged the front-runners in the battle for the east King County legislative seat left behind by the late Sen. Andy Hill, who died last year of cancer.

State Sen. Dino Rossi is currently filling the vacancy, after being appointed to serve until this November’s special election.

New this week, Republican Jinyoung Lee Englund announced she will run to try and defend the seat for the Party.

Englund, whose campaign website describes her as an entrepreneur, also has a history working in Republican politics. She served on the leadership staff of Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-5th District, and also worked as an advocate for the digital currency, “Bitcoin.”

The Democratic front-runner is Manka Dhingra, a senior deputy prosecuting attorney for King County, who also supervises the regional mental health court and serves as a board member for NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Dhingra, who announced her bid weeks ago, has already amassed big name Democratic support and raised nearly $200,000 in contributions so far.

The race will likely become an extremely pricey one, as Democrats try to take control of the state Senate, meaning they would control both chambers of the state legislature and the governor’s mansion.

Currently, the Majority Coalition Caucus, comprised of 24 Republicans and one Independent who caucuses with the Republicans, control the state Senate with 25 senators to 24 Democratic senators.

Political analysts note that legislative district 45, which includes Woodinville, Duvall, Kirkland, and Sammamish has become increasingly blue. It was carried comfortably by Hillary Clinton during last year’s presidential race.

In 2016, Senate Republicans also lost a seat in the nearby 41st legislative district after former Sen. Steve Litzow lost his re-election campaign to Democrat Lisa Wellman.

The race for legislative district 45 will have its first test during the August primary.

Englund lists “protecting Washingtonians from a state income tax, reducing traffic congestion and grounding skyrocketing car tabs,” as her key issues.

Dhingra lists her key issues as “education funding, mental health and violence prevention.”

Candidates Robert Harris, who's unaffiliated, Ian Stratton, a Democrat, and Kenneth Smith, a Republican, have also filed in the race.

© 2017 KING-TV


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