Randall combating candidates, campaign setback just before primary

It did not take long following U.S. Congressman Derek Kilmer’s recent announcement that he would not seek reelection for another locally well-known Democrat to throw her hat into the ring.

South Kitsap High School alum and state Sen. Emily Randall’s political career received its spark of ambition when former President Trump was elected in 2016, so it was only a matter of time before she would start her newest political endeavor to earn a seat in Congress.

“When Donald Trump won, I was working at Planned Parenthood. I knew I had to do more to protect our rights,” she tells voters in her statement in the local voters pamphlet. “I ran for a state senate seat no one thought I could win and beat an anti-abortion MAGA Republican. I’ve been proudly fighting for all of us ever since.”

Randall has served as a state senator in the 26th legislative district covering parts of Port Orchard, Bremerton and Gig Harbor since 2019 and was most recently reelected in a 2022 race against Jesse Young.

Now she is working to build a campaign that would take her stances on medical care, reproductive rights and LGBTQ+ freedoms from Olympia to D.C. Yet it will be on the voters to determine Aug. 6 if she will advance past the primary. Recent changes within her campaign staffing could give further insight as to how important the conflict between Israel and Hamas is to voters in the 6th Congressional District.

Randall’s campaign has revolved around sounding the alarm on accomplishments that her campaign says are now under threat by “MAGA extremists,” who she adds are focusing on “undermining our democracy instead of getting things done for our communities.”

Voters attending a recent debate through AARP Washington State between herself and the four other candidates saw Randall speak on the importance of being one with the community and understanding what is important to them. “I see our community every day find a way to ensure that we have the things that we need to take care of each other, and as a member of the state legislature, I have worked so hard to carry those values with me.”

Randall believes she champions those values, including efforts to not only maintain abortion access in Washington but across the country, combat climate change and tackle costs of living and medical care, among others issues.

Many of those values are shared to some extent by Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, the other democratic candidate in the race and a candidate whose campaign manager – Eve Zhurbinskiy – has not been shy about name-dropping Randall as a big ticket opponent come time for voting.

This was especially so after Randall’s campaign, which has been largely silent on the ongoing conflict overseas, was subject to a June 24 report from the Jewish Insider that revealed Randall’s campaign manager had recently been fired following the discovery of “anti-Israel” social media activity. Zhurbinsky indicated in recent releases that she believes the opposition’s campaign is in trouble. “With ballots arriving in less than three weeks, Randall will have a tough time righting her rudderless ship – and she still needs to answer for her extensive list of anti-Semitic donors and supporters.”

Neither Randall nor her campaign have responded to comment on this matter, but the legislator stands by her track record of collaborative work with her constituents as a model for what kind of leader voters could expect. “As a state senator, I worked to help pass 193 bills – 85 percent with bipartisan support,” she said. “Being an effective legislator and delivering results has been my number one priority.”

Also in the race are two Republican candidates and a longtime U.S. Department of Transportation executive turned independent candidate. Drew MacEwen had served the 35th District as state representative from 2013-23, has served as the district’s state senator since then and is running to address a “broken” immigration system, defense infrastructure and inflated costs, including healthcare. Fellow Republican Janis Clark is an elected Precinct Committee Officer and is running with a commitment to continued public service and an interest in identifying more options for getting homeless off the streets.

Independent candidate J. Graham Ralston, owner of Ralston Law, believes he offers a balanced approach with years of experience in D.C. and an understanding of local issues. He is also addressing inflation and economic stability, affordable healthcare being a priority as well as tackling the housing crisis.

The 6th Congressional District covers Kitsap County, the Kitsap Peninsula and most of Tacoma.