Strap in, 36th District political nerds. It's been an eventful ride so far in the crowded race to replace outgoing State Representative Mary Lou Dickerson, and it's only going to get crazier and more contentious as we head toward November.
The latest evidence: A "cease and desist" letter sent to candidate Gael Tarleton today by Teamsters Local 174 asking Tarleton "to immediately pull all advertisements, website materials, printed materials and any other publications using the Teamsters Local 174 name and logo."
Also: "Teamsters Local 174 will not endorse your candidacy for state legislature based on your long record of anti-labor activities during your tenure on the Port of Seattle Commission, including your public opposition to improving dangerous, poverty-level working conditions for thousands of workers in the port trucking sector and your public efforts to block job protections for women and men working at SeaTac Airport," wrote Local 174 Secretary-Treasurer Rick Hicks, author of the letter.
"Your anti-labor corporate funding base," Hicks continued, "leads us to conclude that you are likely to continue to oppose family wage workers and economic justice issues as a state legislator."
Tarleton's campaign is swinging right back, saying the YouTube ad (and an allegedly offending web ad that's also referenced in the Teamsters' letter) conveys "a simple testimonial from a supporter of Gael’s who happens to be a Teamster.”
The supporter? Why it's the straight-out-of-central-casting Warren Aakervik, owner of Ballard Oil and Local 174 member. In the YouTube ad he talks about how Tarleton knows "the most important thing in this community is jobs."
Sue Evans, campaign spokesperson for Tarleton, said that contrary to the statements of the Teamsters' leadership, Tarleton "absolutely has a track record for protecting and creating union jobs.”
Evans added that more than 5,000 union jobs have been created during Tarleton's years on the Port Commission, including jobs working at the new Sea-Tac car rental facility, constructing the new South Park Bridge, building the East Marginal Way bypass, and starting in on the viaduct replacement project—“which is huge," Evans said.
She also claimed that Tarleton is "the only candidate in the race who has created union jobs in the district" by protecting union workers at Fisherman's Terminal.
“Gael supports labor and labor supports Gael," Evans said. "A handful of union leaders don’t and have made it personal... But the rank and file is still behind Gael, and everybody in this ad is still behind Gael.”
Even so, Evans said, Tarleton's campaign will be taking out the written references to Teamsters Local 174 in the ads. "We'll just put 'Warren, lifelong union member,' so that everyone’s happy," she told me.
My prediction, based on how this race has been going up to this point: