With Palumbo out, capital gains tax gets real for Democrats

His successor could be the vote leaders need. But with elections in 2020, tax may be off the table.

OLYMPIA — The resignation of Guy Palumbo from the state Senate gives progressive Democratic lawmakers a clearer path to a capital gains tax, one of the few political peaks they failed to summit in the 2019 session.

Will they take it is a question to be mulled these next few months.

Palumbo was among a quartet of the 28-member Senate Democratic caucus unwilling to support such a tax. Without those four votes, all ideas were destined to die.

The Maltby Democrat quit May 24 and Rep. Derek Stanford, D-Bothell, announced Tuesday he wants to fill the seat in the 1st District. If he gets the gig — and he’s a favorite — it changes the equation.

Stanford, a data science consultant, is not averse to a capital gains tax which House Democrats have put out there a few times in his five terms, including this year.

One suspects a change of chambers won’t alter his attitude. Thus he’d be positioned to cast the pivotal 25th vote for passage in the Senate — presuming Democrats will be still interested in making this dangerous political trek in 2020, an election year.

On June 9, Democratic precinct committee officers will meet to nominate three people to fill the vacancy. Their names will be sent to the Snohomish and King County councils, which will appoint someone to serve the district, which straddles Snohomish and King counties encompassing Bothell, Mountlake Terrace, and part of Kirkland.

In the meantime, Palumbo’s departure also could add this controversial tax to the mix of a special legislative contest this November.

State Sen. Liz Lovelett, D-Anacortes, is seeking to keep the 40th District seat to which she was appointed earlier this year. She’s all in on this potential source of revenue. She co-sponsored a capital gains tax that received a hearing in the the Senate Ways and Means Committee but was never a threat of being voted on.

While this is a pretty safe district for Democrats, taxes are an easy line of attack for her Republican challenger. And if either of the two Democrats in the primary are wary of the tax, they might bring it up as well.

Never too soon to celebrate

When Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers issued a statement May 17 proclaiming victory in his re-election bid, it did seem a tad bit early for celebrating.

No ballot had been cast or counted. Heck, none had even been printed for the primary or general election.

But since no one filed to run against him, Somers had every reason to be confident. Absent a formal campaign by a write-in, he’s getting a second term without a fight.

Which makes one wonder whither the Snohomish County Republican Party?

“We didn’t have anybody to run,” said Debbie Blodgett, the party chairwoman. “There wasn’t anybody who wanted to run.”

The two Republicans on the County Council — Sam Low and Nate Nehring — are considered potential candidates for the job in the future. Right now, they are in their first term. And they get along well with Somers.

“I think things are good or at least aren’t as bad as they could be,” she said.

Republicans made an aggressive run at the office in 2011 when Mike Hope, then a GOP state lawmaker, took on the Democrat then in the office, Aaron Reardon.

Four years ago, it was an all-Democrat final as Somers faced off and unseated the incumbent county exec, John Lovick.

Blodgett insisted 2023 will be different.

“We will have somebody to run in four years.” she said.

And if Somers chooses to seek a third time, maybe the GOP will at least force him to wait a little longer to celebrate.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@herald net.com. Twitter: @dospueblos

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