In November 2022, Republican Tiffany Smiley challenged longtime Democratic incumbent Patty Murray for a US Senate seat representing Washington state. Smiley positioned herself as a political outsider, emphasizing her background in nursing and advocacy work. However, Murray prevailed decisively, defeating Smiley by over 13 points as Democrats maintained their Senate majority nationally. While her first Senate run was unsuccessful, some believe the 41-year-old Smiley could mount another bid in the future.
Background on Tiffany Smiley
Early Life and Education
Born in Pasco, Washington in 1981, Tiffany Smiley studied nursing at Whitworth University, earning a bachelor of science degree. Her experience working in patient care would later inform her political views and advocacy work.
Professional Background as a Nurse
After college, Smiley built her career in the nursing profession. She worked in various nursing roles including triage, pediatrics and home health. Her hands-on experience gave her insight into issues impacting healthcare workers and patients.
Founding of Nonprofit Hope Unseen
In 2015, Smiley co-founded the nonprofit organization Hope Unseen to support visually impaired veterans. Her husband, Army Major Scotty Smiley, was blinded from injuries in the Iraq War. Through Hope Unseen, the Smileys have provided training and counseling for hundreds of visually impaired veterans.
Overview of Smiley’s Senate Campaign
Republican Nomination and Platform
In March 2022, Smiley secured the Republican nomination for US Senate in Washington. Running as a political outsider, she emphasized her background as a nurse and advocate as well as her Christian faith. Smiley positioned herself as a supporter of law enforcement and tougher border security.
Fundraising and Endorsements
As a first-time candidate, Smiley raised an impressive $7.4 million for her Senate bid, trailing Murray’s fundraising but still mounting a competitive effort. She won endorsements from former President Donald Trump along with other leading state and national Republicans.
Contrasting Murray’s Record
A key strategy for Smiley was contrasting her background as an outsider against Murray’s 30 years in the Senate. She criticized Murray as a career politician out of touch with everyday Washingtonians. However, Murray’s long incumbency proved difficult for Smiley to overcome.
Key Issues in Smiley’s Campaign
Economy and Inflation
With inflation surging in 2022, Smiley joined Republicans nationally in hammering Democrats over the economy. She blamed policies from Biden and Murray for increased costs of living, trying to make this a wedge issue with voters strained by high prices.
Crime and Immigration
Smiley worked to portray herself as tough on crime and immigration, areas where Republicans often hold an advantage in polling. She advocated for increased law enforcement funding and tougher border security, while accusing Democrats of being soft on crime and illegal immigration.
Given her advocacy work with disabled veterans, Smiley emphasized improving support and healthcare for veterans as a priority issue. This resonated with Washington’s large veteran population. Smiley pointed to her life experience supporting her husband through injury and recovery.
Election Results and Aftermath
Murray’s Decisive Victory
In November, Senator Murray ultimately prevailed with over 56% of the vote compared to just over 43% for Smiley. Murray’s strong name recognition and fundraising benefited her campaign in the blue-leaning state.
Future Political Prospects for Smiley
While her Senate bid fell short this year, some political analysts believe Smiley could have a future in Washington politics given her relatively young age. She gained valuable experience in her maiden run. Smiley could potentially mount another US Senate campaign or seek a Congressional seat in the years to come.
Tiffany Smiley entered the 2022 election season as an underdog but mounted a spirited challenge to Senator Patty Murray. While Smiley’s Senate hopes were dashed this year, she established herself as a rising star in Washington’s Republican Party. At just 41 years old, Smiley still has time on her side to potentially make another bid for federal office. Despite her loss, Smiley’s 2022 Senate race demonstrated her potential as a candidate willing to take on entrenched incumbents.
What was Tiffany Smiley’s background before running for Senate?
Smiley worked professionally as a nurse and healthcare advocate. She also co-founded the nonprofit Hope Unseen which supports visually impaired veterans, inspired by her husband’s injuries.
What were some of Smiley’s key campaign issues and stances?
Smiley campaigned on issues like inflation, crime, immigration, and support for veterans. She positioned herself as an outsider and criticized Murray’s long tenure in office.
How much fundraising did Smiley’s Senate campaign generate?
Smiley raised an impressive $7.4 million for her first Senate run, not far behind Murray’s fundraising as the incumbent.
What was the outcome of Smiley’s challenge against Senator Murray?
Murray won re-election decisively, defeating Smiley by over 13 percentage points as Democrats performed well nationally.
Could Smiley potentially run for office again in the future?
Yes, some believe the 41-year-old Smiley could mount another bid for the Senate or House given her relatively young age and strong campaign this year.