Sen. Jim Kastama earned the ire of some of his fellow Democrats when he crossed party lines to help state Senate Republicans pass a budget during the legislative session earlier this year.
He even got booed by some attendees at the Democrats' state convention in June.
But Kastama wears the experience like a badge of honor -- and says it shows he would be the kind of independent secretary of state that voters say they want.
"One thing all elected officials should be concerned about is that people's faith in government is declining," Kastama told the Herald during a recent Tri-City campaign stop. "We do not treat voters as if they are rational. ... If we want to restore faith in government, we have to treat the public like they're rational."
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Kastama, of Puyallup, is one of seven people vying to replace current Secretary of State Sam Reed, who did not seek re-election.
He's one of three Democrats running for the office along with former Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels and Kathleen Drew, who until recently was a policy staffer in Gov. Chris Gregoire's office.
It was Drew who earned the party's endorsement at the state convention, but Kastama is banking on the state's top two primary system to bring him through to the general election as a self-described moderate alternative.
Under the top two primary system, a party's endorsement or nomination doesn't guarantee a candidate a place on the general election ballot, but instead advances the top two vote-getters regardless of party.
In Eastern Washington -- which has become a Republican stronghold in the past decade -- that has resulted in a number of races in which two Republicans faced off in the November election.
Kastama said in Western Washington, that just as easily can mean two Democrats make it through the primary -- and he believes that may be the best chance moderate candidates have at getting elected in an era of increasingly vitriolic political partisanship.
"Recent polls show the parties are more polarized than they are in the last 25 years," he said. "But there is a growing group of centrist moderates out there. I believe we need to set aside partisan bickering."
In addition to providing an independent voice, Kastama said if elected he'd advocate for building upon the reforms in the budget adopted earlier this year and would require all divisions of the Secretary of State's Office to undergo assessment by the Washington State Quality Awards to ensure they're performing efficiently and with accountability.
"I want the Secretary of State's Office to be the model of a well-run agency," Kastama said.
He also would be an advocate for economic development in the state and boosting trade, and looks to former Secretary of State Ralph Munro -- a Republican -- as an example.
He said his 16 years in the Legislature -- four in the House and 12 in the Senate -- including time as chairman of the Senate's Government Operations and Elections Committee make him the best qualified candidate for the job.
"Voters want someone competent on elections law," he said. "I have been involved in writing almost all of it. ... I think this is an ideal opportunity. I think I have contributed significantly in my 16 years and can do the state a lot of good in a statewide position."
For more information about his campaign, go to www.jimkastama.com.