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Originally published Friday, July 20, 2012 at 5:50 PM

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Sen. Jim Kastama for Washington secretary of state

Voters should elect state Sen. Jim Kastama as Washington's next secretary of state. He has a legislative record of seeking improvements that serve citizens, rather than special interests, and courageously bucks the party line when necessary.

Seattle Times Editorial

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THE Secretary of State must be above reproach when umpiring close elections, like the one we had in 2004 when the governor's race with its razor-thin margin ended up in court.

Washington voters have been privileged to have such a person in Republican Sam Reed, who is retiring. He gracefully ducked arrows from his own party during that election and, later, he supported the top-two primary, which the political parties sought to destroy.

The best candidate to succeed Reed is state Sen. Jim Kastama of Puyallup, who is as wonky and authentic a public servant as you will find. Though he identifies as a Democrat, he has battle scars from courageously bucking his party in the last legislative session. He was one of the three rogue Democrats who broke with party leadership to help Republicans seize control of the budget and force necessary reforms.

Theirs was truly a profile in courage as angry colleagues turned up the heat. Special-interest groups leafletted Kastama's district while he stood his ground. The result was a bipartisan budget that put Washington state on firmer ground during this stubbornly sluggish economic recovery.

Kastama was first elected to the state House in 1996 and then moved to the Senate in 2000. His election credentials were burnished as chair of the Senate Government and Elections Committee in 2005, when he ushered through several needed election reforms after that challenging 2004 gubernatorial election.

Kastama clearly is in no one's pocket — he has demonstrated principled, down-to-the-mat independence from his party. His Democratic opponents — former Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels and Kathleen Drew, a former adviser to Gov. Chris Gregoire and former state senator — are credible candidates but have much tighter ties to their party.

Significantly, the Republican in the race, Thurston County Auditor Kim Wyman is endorsed by Reed and two of his Republican successors, Ralph Munro and Bruce Chapman. Wyman is a strong candidate, whose smooth-running office is known for accurate elections.

Kastama's legislative record of seeking improvements that serve citizens, rather than special interests, and his courage and principled stand under heavy fire from his party earns The Times' endorsement.

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