Here's What I Think About That

Hearing the Voice of the Key Peninsula


Time and again I’ve heard that “all politics is local,” but I’m beginning to wonder how true that is.

We already know the outcomes of the November 8 election, but before we declare 2022 a wrap, here’s a look at how it played out from a Key Peninsula perspective.

Back in 2020 we reported that if the presidential election were up to KP voters to decide, Donald Trump would have been re-elected and political newcomer Loren Culp, a small-town police chief from Republic, would be our governor.

The last two years have changed few minds.

While the anticipated “red wave” failed to materialize nationally or in Washington state, it was far more than a red ripple on the KP.

Incumbent U.S. Sen. Patty Murray won reelection with 57% of the vote statewide, including 53% from Pierce County. But on the KP it was a different story. Murray would have lost to candidate Tiffany Smiley by a 4% margin, and the third most powerful Democrat in Congress would have been sent packing.

Incumbent Rep. Derek Kilmer, Democrat from the 6th Congressional District, was in a class all his own by rising above the KP red wave to become the only Democrat re-elected to office with a majority of Key Peninsula voters behind him, barely.

Kilmer, who has served in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2013, will return to Washington, D.C. after garnering 64% of votes from Pierce County and 60% districtwide.

His margin of victory on the KP was a mere two percentage points.

When it came to electing Washington’s secretary of state, 59% of KP voters turned out for the familiar face of Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson, who received 54% in Pierce County but lost the statewide vote by 4%. 

Termed out in Pierce County, Anderson ran as an independent against the Gov. Inslee-appointed Democrat Steve Hobbs — who filled the remaining term vacated by Kim Wyman, a Republican who resigned in November 2021 to safeguard elections at the Department of Homeland Security. 

How people would vote in our local 26th legislative district clearly mattered to partisans in this election. Deep-pocketed political action committees funneled millions of dollars into the 26th to influence what was widely considered to be one of the most important and competitive races in Washington state — the senate seat of incumbent Sen. Emily Randall (D-Bremerton), who ultimately beat her challenger, Rep. Jesse Young (R-Gig Harbor).

A report issued November 9 from the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission said overall spending on state legislative races is approaching record levels. “Most notably candidates vying for the 26th district senate seat reported spending $1.6 million, placing it in line to become at least the third costliest legislative race in state history.”

The final tab on that senate race, according to the commission’s report, is not due until December 12, noting that the Randall and Young campaigns “have reported more than $1.7 million in contributions so far and could report additional receipts in the coming days. If they spend all the money on hand, their campaigns could top” the previous record of $1.8 million in 2020.

The race between the two was extremely tight. Only five of 17 KP precincts went to Randall, where Young received 52% of the vote. The same did not hold true elsewhere; Randall received 50.24% and 50.8% throughout the 26th.

In another tight race for state representative position 1, Spencer Hutchins (R-Gig Harbor) eked out a win over Adison Richards (D-Gig Harbor) of just 50.46% to 49.48%. Richards fared better in Kitsap County, receiving 50.64%, but voters in Pierce County pushed Hutchins over the top. KP precincts gave Hutchins 52.5% of the vote.

Incumbent Rep. Michelle Caldier (R-Port Orchard), position 2, was the clear favorite of KP voters, winning all of the 17 voting precincts in a clean sweep with 59% of that vote, 57% in Pierce County, and besting her challenger, Matt Macklin (D-Gig Harbor), with 56% to 44% of votes districtwide.

In the campaign for Pierce County Council, Robyn Denson (D-Gig Harbor) enjoyed a big win over her opponent, Paula Lonergan (R-Tacoma), 58% to 42% in District 7. Denson was frequently seen participating in public events on the KP, listening to its residents and courting its voters, while Lonergan plainly said at the KP Candidate Forum that she had never been to the KP before and didn’t really know anything about us. Regardless, KP voters would have elected Lonergan by 52%.

Last, Linda Farmer won her race to become the next Pierce County Auditor against Deryl McCarty in a nonpartisan election where KP voters were closer to the rest of Pierce County, electing Farmer with 59% of the votes.

I attended numerous events during the campaign season, overhearing or straining to eavesdrop as people approached handing-shaking candidates with their questions and concerns. Most stemmed from national issues most candidates would have no power to affect if elected and seemed more about branding and identity, dividing rather than governing our democratic republic.

The swamp of information, real or imagined, that is cable news and social media “floods the zone,” as has been said, pushing people onto familiar, safe islands of like-minded people. In other words, separating us from each other, and reinforcing that separation with every tide.

But the KP is its own island, and we are on it together.

The Key Peninsula News exists to give voice to its people, to its experiences, tragedies and dreams. For some, that means hearing about local politics, traffic or crime. For others, it’s a new perspective, a neighbor’s letter, the call of an unfamiliar bird. But they are all important to hear, however they may be received, because they tell our story.

Help us keep the story going.

Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. And Happy New Year.