All Politics is Local

Union leader denounces being called a “boss” in campaign flyer

A campaign mailer for Sen. Lynda Wilson, a Republican who represents the 17th Legislative District in Olympia, displays a checklist designed to draw a contrast between herself and her opponent, Democrat Daniel Smith.

Wilson’s column includes a check mark next to statements like “Proven leader and experienced legislator,” “Strong record of opposing higher taxes” and “Small business owner who has created jobs.” On Smith’s side of the list is a mark indicating that the Democrat is “Financially backed and endorsed by special interests and Big Union bosses in Seattle and Portland.” 

The mailer drew the ire of a local union leader, who did not appreciate being referred to as a “boss” in campaign materials for a state legislator. In a letter titled “Setting the Record Straight,” Shannon Myers, president of the Southwest Washington Central Labor Council (who endorsed Smith), said she was tired of unions being attacked by elected leaders.

Meyers wrote: 

  1. I live in Vancouver and in LD17 

  2. Our Labor Council represents over 20,000 members that live in Clark, Skamania, and Klickitat counties.

  3. Delegates that live HERE, voted unanimously to endorse Daniel Smith For Senate.

  4. We are not Bosses. You wanted that to be an insult and I do take offense. I am a leader!

  5. You do not represent Everyone and refuse to talk to us.

  6. You do not take our appointments, calls or invitations. Not one meeting! And we have asked! You do not want to hear us! This is not representation!

The mailer (and Meyers’ response) made me curious as to how big of a financial player unions are in the state legislature race. So, while we’re on the subject — who is financially backing these candidates? 

According to the state’s Public Disclosure Commission, Smith has raised $286,464.23 since filing his campaign in February. Of that total, $18,800 came from union donations. His largest category of contributors is made up of individuals ($119,891.57), followed by businesses ($52,425), the Democratic party ($41,446.97) and the party caucus ($35,372,21).

Wilson, who was elected senator of the 17th District in 2016 after serving two terms in the state House of Representatives, raised $301,600.91 cash contributions this election cycle: $93,368 from the party caucus, $80,300 from Political Action Committees, $74,050 from businesses and $53,736.56 from individuals. Combined with the cash she had on-hand when she started her 2020 campaign, the senator has $326,057.21.

Those are fairly even fundraising totals between an incumbent and a challenger. Especially considering that Wilson beat Smith by more than 10 percentage points in a primary election that served largely as a formality, as they were the only two candidates on the August ballot for the LD-17 senate race. 

I’m not going to speculate if the incumbent will hang on to her commanding lead in the general election. But it is worth noting that Smith’s campaign is getting a boost from Gov. Jay Inslee, who plans to hold a virtual event over Facebook Live with the first-time candidate on Saturday. It’s an unusual move for the governor, who doesn’t usually get involved in state legislature campaigns in southwest Washington. Inslee’s event also follows a viral video of Smith’s wife being berated by a passerby last weekend while passing out campaign fliers.

Calley Hair

Calley Hair

I write about city and federal politics. Find me at twitter.com/CalleyNHair