Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Balance Of Power In State Senate Hinges On First-Time Candidates

Republican Jinyoung Englund, left, and Democrat Manka Dhingra will face off this fall for an open state Senate seat in Washington's 45th legislative district.

The state senate race in Washington’s 45th legislative district is a special election that has generated a lot of interest and record-setting, six-figure donations.

Republican Jinyoung Englund and Democrat Manka Dhingra are vying to fill the seat left vacant by Republican Andy Hill, who died of cancer last October.

The 45th district covers several communities on the east side of Lake Washington, including Kirkland, Sammamish and Duvall.

KNKX Morning Edition Host Kirsten Kendrick learned more from KNKX Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins.

Balance Of Power At Stake

"This race will decide which party controls the Washington state Senate," Jenkins said.

"That's significant because, right now, Democrats have the Governor's Office and the House of Representatives. So, for Republicans and their backers, this majority is very important for being a stopgap against Democratic policies."

"For Democrats, it's an opportunity to have one-party control again and be able to do things that they have not been able to do with the Republican majority in the Senate.

'Blue Blockade'

Jenkins said the race is also important on a national level.

"Democrats see this as symbolic because this is the only Republican-controlled legislative chamber on the West Coast."

"If they could flip it, they have a blue blockade on the West Coast to, sort of, be a resistance to President Trump and his policies but also to try to move climate change legislation."

Again Next Year?

Jenkins pointed out that all of this rests on the shoulders of two first-time candidates. He also noted that this is a special election, which means the seat will be up for grabs again next year.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.
Kirsten Kendrick hosts Morning Edition on KNKX and the sports interview series "Going Deep," talking with folks tied to sports in our region about what drives them — as professionals and people.