Voters deciding 3 state Senate races

Voters deciding 3 state Senate races
Government was one area that showed the most employment gains last month.
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - Republicans hope to add another seat Tuesday to their coalition that controls the Senate.

Voters will get their say on the race for the 26th District between Democrat Nathan Schlicher and Republican Jan Angel, which has become the most expensive legislative contest in state history, with combined spending of $2.9 million.

More than half of that money has been spent by third-party groups. The influx of independent expenditures on both sides has led to negative campaigning in the form of TV ads and mailers.

A predominantly Republican Majority Coalition Caucus currently controls the Senate with the help of two Democrats, giving the majority caucus a one-vote advantage in the chamber. About half of the Senate will be up for re-election in 2014.

Schlicher, an emergency room doctor from Gig Harbor, was appointed to the Senate seat in January to replace Democrat Derek Kilmer, who was elected to Congress. Angel, of Port Orchard, has served in the House since 2009.

Both currently represent the district they are vying for, a swing district that includes the southeastern Kitsap peninsula from Bremerton and Port Orchard to Gig Harbor in Pierce County.

Angel, 66, previously worked in business and real estate and served as a Kitsap County Commissioner for eight years. Schlicher, 30, graduated from high school at 14, has both law and medical degrees and works six days a month in the emergency room at St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma.

Voters will also weigh in on two other Senate races. In the 7th District, Republican Sen. John Smith of Colville, who was appointed in January to succeed retiring state Sen. Bob Morton, faces fellow Republican Brian Dansel, and the in the 8th District Republican Sen. Sharon Brown of Kennewick, who was appointed in January to replace Sen. Jerome Delvin, is running against Republican Phillip R. Lemley.