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Incumbents prevail in 23rd
Tuesday was a good day to be a Democrat in north Kitsap County.
All three incumbent Democrats representing the 23rd Legislative District – Rep. Sherry Appleton of Poulsbo, Sen. Phil Rockefeller of Bainbridge and Rep. Christine Rolfes of Bainbridge – were reelected to their posts in Olympia. Each incumbent had earned more than 61 percent of votes, with 22,500 Kitsap County ballots left to be counted Friday.
Appleton defeated Larry Cooney, a political newcomer from Poulsbo who added color to the campaign with bright orange t-shirts and signs that read “Are you sick of it?” Rockefeller outpaced Connie Lord, a Poulsbo City Council member, while Rolfes sailed past Mark Lowe, a retired U.S. Navy officer from Bremerton.
The races were marked by disparate fundraising gaps. Rockefeller set the pace for the Democrats, raising $179,965. Lord, the top fundraiser among the Republicans, fielded $24,625.
The results didn’t surprise the incumbents.
“I’ve been very confident but I take nothing for granted,” Rockefeller said at a Democratic event in Silverdale, Tuesday. “I worked hard to get here and I’m going to do the same to stay.”
Lord, who ran the most aggressive campaign among the Republican candidates, said she wasn’t disillusioned by the result Tuesday.
“I’m proud of all the people who worked on my campaign,” she said. “It’s been worthwhile, we’ve really put the spotlight on Olympia.”
Some local candidates credited the success of the Democratic party on a national level for giving local campaigns a boost. Appleton was doubtful that many voters drawn out by national races voted far enough down the ballot to mark her name.
“Regardless, I think all three of us would have been returned to office, because we listen and respond, and that’s really what it is all about,” Appleton said.
The trio will spend much of the next legislative session responding to the weakening economy. State budget cuts could be deep in the upcoming year, and the legislators will have to be vigilant to protect vital social services, Appleton said.
Rolfes said she wants to make sure funding for public schools isn’t included in the budget trimming, and said the Legislature needs to be focused on re-stimulating the state economy.
Ferries will also see attention. The Legislature will be reviewing recommendations from Washington State ferries for operating more efficiency. The state will be forging ahead with new boat construction as well.