Bengie Aguilar and team heat up senate campaign

State Senate candidate Bengie Aguilar visits with a pair of voters.

Credit: Matt Sagen
State Senate candidate Bengie Aguilar visits with a pair of voters.

Bengie Aguilar received about half as many votes as incumbent Jim Honeyford in last month’s primary election for the 15th District Washington State Senate seat, but she’s not cowed by the result. She is confident she can still win.

“We did well — better than some people thought we’d do. I feel great,” she said just before Labor Day.

The Sunnyside Democrat is attempting to something that rarely happens in this part of the state—beat a Republican for a seat in the legislature.

Aguilar knows it won’t be easy, but she’s going to go all out personally, and she said her team is excited about a September-October blitz leading to the Nov. 6 election. Her campaign will talk to every voter possible, she said.

“There are still a lot of votes our there.” Aguilar said. “About two-thirds of the registered voters did not vote. We are going to knock on every door, and I’m going to talk to anyone who will listen.”

One negative Aguilar will have to overcome is the perception among Republicans that all Democrats are liberal. She considers herself a moderate Democrat.

“I am not a liberal,” she said Friday.

A devout Catholic, Aguilar said she will always be pro-life. She does not support such things as the controversial public restroom law under which anyone can use any facility.

Two groups Aguilar plans to target are the people who haven’t been voting in recent elections and Republicans she believes might give her a chance.

Aguilar has been a part of the Lower Valley community nearly all her life. Several acquaintances and friends are Republican. She plans to speak to a few to learn what they want from a senator, even if they don’t vote for her.

“I know this Valley’s economy is based on agriculture,” she said.

Aguilar said she knows the availability of adequate water is a priority. She said the party was upset with her recently when she said Honeyford’s current ideas on water are good for the district. She would have a similar approach, she said.

Other than one term on the Sunnyside City Council, Aguilar has little experience with elective politics. She does not like some of the tactics employed by either party. She’d be happy if there were no party labels and voters could simply judge each candidate.

“It should not be about party,” she said. “It should be about who you think will do the right thing.”

Aguilar insists she is not running just to be a senator. She believes she’s been called to serve. At the time she told the party she’d run, she had been told that Honeyford, who she considers a friend, was going to retire.

Now that she’s committed, she’s going to make every effort possible to win. She is going to talk to voters until she’s too worn out to speak or they are too worn out to listen. She said she’ll talk on the streets, in the malls and at people’s homes, wherever voters will lend an ear.


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