Democratic state Sen. Emily Randall on Thursday kicked off a campaign to succeed U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer next year, touting her lifelong ties with communities throughout the western Washington congressional district.
Randall, who grew up in Port Orchard and lives in Bremerton, said she’ll work to expand higher education access, lower health care costs, and protect abortion rights, issues on which she’s focused as a state lawmaker. If elected, she would be the first LGBTQ+ member of Washington’s congressional delegation.
“This is where I was born and raised. I feel my roots and experience make me uniquely positioned to bring the voices of my neighbors to Congress to fight for the issues they care about,” said Randall, who is in her second term representing the 26th Legislative District encompassing parts of Pierce and Kitsap counties.
She joins fellow Democrat, Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, in vying for the seat in the 6th Congressional District, which includes the Olympic Peninsula, the Kitsap Peninsula and much of Tacoma.
Franz abruptly ended her monthslong bid for governor last week to get into the race hours after Kilmer revealed he would not seek re-election. She quickly snared the backing of Kilmer and his legendary predecessor, Norm Dicks, who held the congressional seat from 1976 until 2013.
Randall, a graduate of Wellesley College, has worked as director of development and communications at Legal Voice and as a philanthropy officer for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, according to her campaign.
She was first elected to the Legislature in 2018. She won re-election last year, narrowly defeating Republican state Rep. Jesse Young in a duel in which candidates and outside groups spent roughly $4 million combined.
“My door-knocking shoes are not too dusty,” she quipped when asked about preparing for another campaign so soon.
Randall’s entry into the race ended any hope Franz might have had of averting the kind of intraparty competition that undercut her gubernatorial bid.
While the women have crossed paths a couple times in recent days, Randall didn’t tell Franz of her looming announcement.
“I’ve been focused on the incredible early support we’ve received in the last week so we haven’t really connected, but I know and respect Emily and look forward to seeing her on the campaign trail,” Franz said in a text.
Republican state Sen. Drew MacEwen has said he is “seriously contemplating” a run and last week set up an exploratory committee to steer the efforts.
Randall is currently the deputy majority leader of the Senate Democratic Caucus and chair of the chamber’s Higher Education & Workforce Development Committee.
When Kilmer made his announcement, she said her phone literally didn’t stop ringing for 12 hours with folks calling to encourage her to run. Among her early endorsers are Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig, D-Spokane, and Democratic Secretary of State Steve Hobbs.
A conversation with Alison, her partner for 18 years and wife of four months, sealed Randall’s decision, as the lawmaker said she wanted to be sure “this was a choice our family was united behind.”