Washington State Senator Emily Randall. Photo: Emily Randall campaign

As part of News is Out’s Election 2022 coverage, we are looking at races all over the country and sharing campaigns of key LGBTQ+ candidates.

Name: State Senator Emily Randall

Office: Washington State Senator 26th District, includes Port Orchard and a portion of Bremerton as well as Gig Harbor and northern Pierce County.

Bio: Long involved in health care work and issues, Randall has dedicated her career to helping expand access to affordable health care for women, kids, and LGBTQ folks across the country. In 2018, she became the first Latina elected to represent the 26th Senate District in Washington state; she is seeking reelection. She is 36, a lesbian, and has been with her partner Alison Leahey for 17 years, and they live in the Puget Sound area. She previously lived in San Francisco and worked for the San Fransisco AIDS Foundation.

Opponent: Randall, a Democrat, is in a swing district and is being challenged by Republican state Representative Jesse Young, 46, of Gig Harbor, a software engineer and IT consultant, who worked for finance, aerospace and health care corporations. Four years ago Randall defeated her GOP opponent by just 104 votes; this year her contest is considered the most competitive state legislative race in Washington. Special interest groups have already spent more than $1 million on the race. Randall has raised $700,000 for her campaign and expects to reach the $1 million mark by Election Day.

Most important issue in the race: Randall’s reelection would help preserve the number of Democratic seats in the state Senate to maintain their majority. Both campaigns are divided over abortion. Randall supports a person’s right to make their own health care decisions, and Young described himself as “pro-life, period” and has introduced in the state House every year a bill to ban abortion. He backs banning critical race theory and sex education to elementary students.

The significance of or historic first if this person wins: Randall became the first Latina elected to represent the 26th Senate District in Washington state when she won her first term in 2018. She was also one of the first two queer women elected to the Senate chamber four years ago.

What the campaign is like on the ground: As of Oct. 3, spending in the 2022 race between Randall and Young stands at nearly $1.17 million, according to the state Public Disclosure Commission. Randall was buoyed by Aug. 2 primary results that put her at 51.52% of the vote to Young’s 44.36%.

Michael Yamashita is the publisher of Bay Area Reporter.