With Wash. statehouse at stake, Democrats seek to build West Coast wall of Trump resistance

Mark Z. Barabak, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Political News

Neither is true.

Dhingra, who moved to the U.S. with her family from India when she was 13, has spent nearly 20 years working as a prosecuting attorney and running a nonprofit organization that works to reduce violence in the growing Asian American community. A longtime activist in Redmond, she attended her first party gathering just last December.

"I spent the last 20 years of my life being completely nonpartisan," she said. "A problem-solver."

Englund, 33, has worked as an aide to a Republican congressman, a spokeswoman for bitcoin, the digital currency, and helped develop a mobile phone app used by Marines to acclimate abroad; her husband serves on active duty in Okinawa.

Raised in Tacoma, she moved to Woodinville, in the region's wine country, not long before launching her candidacy. She's introduced herself to voters by ringing an estimated 17,000 doorbells, pacing off 1.5 million steps, according to her fitness app, and wearing out three pairs of shoes.

Like Dhingra, she shuns overt partisanship.

"I grew up apolitical," said Englund, who wrote in a third-party candidate for president last November rather than support Trump or Clinton.

Neither candidate makes much of party labels -- you have to practically squint to find a "D" or "R" on their campaign literature -- which makes tactical sense in an area filled with highly educated voters who pride themselves on political discernment.

"They want candidates who speak for themselves," said Maria Leininger, a professor at Bellevue College who has run Democratic campaigns in the district, "and not knee-jerk partisans."

But that doesn't lessen the import for the two political parties, or make Democratic activists any less motivated to send a message to Trump by snatching a seat the GOP has held for years.

"Absolutely," said Dixie Swenson, who works the sign-in desk at Dhingra's Redmond headquarters. A win Tuesday would be "a victory for the people who lost the last time."

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