A tough primary fight for Lands Commissioner
Plus a deep dive into House Democrats’ 2023 game plan
State Sen. Kevin Van De Wege jumped into the race for Commissioner of Public Lands this week, setting up what looks like an acrimonious Democrat-on-Democrat fight in next year’s primary.
Van De Wege, D-Port Angeles, represents the sprawling 24th District on the Olympic Peninsula, where many people still go to work cutting down trees and making them into boards, plywood, and other wood products. While he framed his announcement around his career as a firefighter and the Department of Natural Resource’s role as the state’s principal wildland firefighting agency, the real fight in this election is more likely to be about forest management.
Here’s why you should care about this: One of the original purposes of DNR was to manage state lands – mostly forests – to raise money for schools and other vital needs. But recent holders of the office – including incumbent Hilary Franz – have been environmentalists less enchanted with chainsaws and plywood mills.
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