The race for state Senate in the 5th district is getting even uglier.
Republicans, after months of accusing Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire of conspiring with former Republican state Sen. Cheryl Pflug so Democrats can take her 5th Legislative District seat, believe they have fresh evidence.
The new material, a group of emails released in response to a public records request, show that Gregoire chose Pflug for a $92,500-a-year job on the Washington Growth Management Hearings Board despite the fact that Pflug filed the application late and Gregoire’s staff initially didn’t think Pflug had enough legal experience for the job.
Pflug eventually got the job and resigned her Senate seat after the candidate filing deadline, leaving Republicans with inexperienced candidate Brad Toft. Pflug then endorsed Toft’s opponent, Democrat Mark Mullet.
Karina Shagren, a Gregoire spokeswoman, said Pflug got an extension because she “was in the middle of a crazy legislative session.” Shagren added that the staff eventually determined Pflug was qualified due to her legislative experience.
“Any idea that the Republicans are throwing out there that this is some conspiracy to harm them is absolutely false,” Shagren said.
For more on the newly-released emails, read this story by Associated Press reporter Mike Baker.
Liberal groups, meanwhile, have been sending out mailers hammering Toft for several minor criminal and civil cases against him from the 1990s.
One of the mailers, funded by a labor coalition, shows a photo-shopped image of Toft in jail. It also notes Pflug’s endorsement.
Another mailer, paid for by state Democrats, focuses on alleged lies by Toft.
As in the past, Toft dismissed the mailers as a distraction.
“I have kids at home that have to see these kinds of over-the-top images,” he said. “But what I take particular offense to, is that after doorbelling for 6 months, I am in a lot better shape than that image gives me credit for.”
He added, “This mail piece lends itself as more evidence of collusion between Mark Mullet and Cheryl Pflug in the governor’s growing bribery scandal.”