The Moderate Washingtonian

Outlook on politics and elections in the state of Washington from an overall centrist viewpoint. My views tend to be libertarian in nature, but at the same time are largely nonpartisan.

08 January 2009

Welcome back, Rob

Ever since all the decent candidates chickened out of the Sherill Huff coronation, I haven't felt a whole lot like blogging. That changed today, when I read that Robert Rosencrantz is running again for city council in Seattle. Rosencrantz is the personification of the type of public servant Seattle needs more of, i.e. a pragmatic, good-government liberal. He narrowly lost council primaries in 2003 and 2005, and while it's not yet known which council seat he is seeking, it is likely he will once again be a solid, credible candidate. Good to have you back, Rob.

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07 December 2008

King Co elections director race - an update

We now have three filed candidates for the position, all Democrats: Ross Baker, Lloyd Hara, and Jason Osgood. A fourth candidate, Ted Maroutsos, has the skeleton of a campaign site up but has yet to file.

Newly-speculated candidates since my last post on this subject include Ellen Hansen [D], elections director under Randy Revelle in the 80s, Julie Anne Kempf [D], elections superintendent until 2002, and businessman/past GOP state house candidate David Doud. Kempf earned a dual endorsement for the spot along with David Irons from Toby Nixon's Citizens for Accountable Elections group.

Not sure yet if Senator Roach will be running, as it seems she's currently too busy trumpeting bullcrap on the O'Reilly Factor with Ken Hutcherson. Not to go off on a capitol display-tangent, but much as I usually oppose Gregoire I totally support her on that.

Regarding the outlook on the race, as I said in the discussion on the last topical post I think Lloyd Hara is the most likely to end up on top at this point. Democrats aren't reeling in the netroots here and that means Osgood will surely stay in, and with as much courthouse support as Baker has I'd imagine he stays in as well. Hara's almost certainly got the most name recognition of the group and that's probably going to be enough to get him to 25% or whatever the winner will end up getting.

I'd be inclined to support Hara personally, though I'm no longer registered to vote in King County. He's probably the most moderate out of the three declared Democrats and has oodles of local government experience. I still like Fain and Hemstad on the GOP side but figure that neither has the organization to win and if either are going to run they need to get in the race ASAP.


25 November 2008

Justice Sanders hijinx

Turns out he was loudly heckling AG Mukasey at a banquet last week before being asked to leave. How this traditionalist faux-libertarian gets elected in Washington is beyond me.


22 November 2008

Profile: King Co. Elections Director race

Last Thursday the Times had a pretty good article about potential candidates for this February's special election to elect King County's elections director for the first time. The short campaign season means that we should see candidates entering the race all at once here in the coming couple weeks, and a crowded field could mean a winner elected with a small plurality of the vote. The winner will probably depend on the parties getting behind a single candidate in hope of keeping their base from splitting their way to victory for another candidate. While it's clearly Democrats worrying about this scenario the bulk of the speculated candidates in the Times piece were Republicans. The seat is nonpartisan, for an office that should be run in a very nonpartisan manner, but I think we're going to see a lot of partisan posturing for this office.

Potential candidates:
Sherril Huff [D] - appointed incumbent, not considered likely to run but possible
Ross Baker [D] - County Council chief of staff, ex-aide to Larry Gossett
Chris Clifford [R] - high school teacher and Pat Davis recall advocate
Joe Fain [R] - chief of staff for Pete von Reichbauer
Lloyd Hara [D] - Port Commissioner, considering running but may focus on reelection
Anthony Hemstad [R] - elected Valley Medical Center Commissioner, ex-Maple Valley city manager
David Irons Jr. [R] - ex-County Councilman, failed 2005 County Exec candidate
Jason Osgood [D] - failed 2008 Secretary of State candidate, election reform advocate and blogger
Pam Roach [R] - State Senator and carpetbagger from Pierce County

A few brief comments here, since this thing is going to get moving quick and I'm sure will be discussed at length soon enough. I don't think the Sims establishment will back Osgood and if he is to win it's going to be in a crowded race. His support in the Seattle blogs could be enough to earn him a win if there are several credible candidates and the winning margin is brought down. I think Hara will pass and Baker will be the establishment candidate due to his close ties to Gossett and Sims. Republicans are going to have to pick a candidate and get behind them, because it's going to be hard to win if their vote is split. Roach is a no-go and Irons will have a tough time winning outside of a packed field. I don't think Clifford's claim to fame will be enough to earn him a solid base of support even if a lot of people don't like Pat Davis. Hemstad might be the smart pick for the GOP as he is harder to paint as a GOP partisan and has a lot of local experience. Fain could prove to be an attractive candidate for the party but given his youth it seems unlikely.


18 November 2008

A Proposal for Democratic Election Reform

Throughout our history as Washingtonians we have held and honoured a reputation as a progressive society, and hold a rich tradition of open and democratic elections. We continue to cling to the classic blanket primary system and its populist successor, the Top Two primary, in spite of the fact that both major parties stridently oppose them. These election systems hold their popularity through each generation because the citizenry believes they allow the voter to more accurately choose the candidate that best represents them. These systems are noble and more democratic than most other states' comparable systems, but the time is ripe to take election reform to the next level and cement the state's progressive reputation in the future.

The way to do this is to implement Proportional Representation. Proportional Representation systems have the ability to better match voter sentiment because it allows the seats of a legislative body to be distributed at the same or a similar weight as the votes were tallied. Whereas in our current single-member "First Past the Post" system, one candidate is elected per district and this leaves citizens who voted for other candidates without suitable representation. It also skews the representation of a legislative body towards a dominant regional group, and leaves open the potential for unfair district gerrymandering.

We can see evidence of the First Past the Post distribution skew everywhere. Take, for example, the seats of the state House of Representatives for Eastern Washington in the 2004 election. This region has a reputation as very Republican and the results bear that out, as Republicans captured 19 of 22 Eastern Washington seats that cycle. It is also worth noting that, being a presidential year where patriotism and activism runs high, Democrats were able to run candidates in 21 of those 22 races. In the 21 races where there were both Democratic and Republican candidates, Republicans captured 61.7% of the combined vote versus 38.1% for Democrats. When you consider that Republicans hold 86% of these contested seats despite only earning 62% of the vote, the First Past the Post skew becomes apparent. It's a similar story in the 2006 elections, where many of these districts were won by unopposed candidates. Twelve of the 22 districts were contested by both parties in 2006, and Republicans won 57.7% against 42.3% for Democrats. One could argue the Proportional Representation-First Past the Post split is even more egregious in this scenario, where Republicans won 75% of these twelve seats while only taking 58% of the combined vote. This with a very close Democratic pickup in Spokane's 6th district in a Democratic year. It's the same story in other areas, too.

Proportional Representation most certainly better represents the will of voters and electing legislators from statewide party lists allows even the most disaffected regional minority party voter to feel as if their vote counted and they have representation in the legislature. Using a Proportional Representation model for Washington would also have the potential to elect third party legislators, which is nearly impossible in the First Past the Post model. The system would clearly be a boon to a group like the Libertarian Party, who has historically earned mid-single digits in statewide elections. If a Libertarian legislator were elected proportionally, it would finally give thousands of voters across Washington the voice they deserve in Olympia. In this way, Proportional Representation usually broadens the political spectrum in jurisdictions in which it is used. In foreign governments like Norway's, they have seven different parties that surpassed the minimum vote percentage to elect Storting members. These parties then had to form coalitions representing a centre-left governing bloc and a centre-right opposition bloc. In a country with a two-party system like the United States, it gives these minor parties a shot at electing someone at the state level, a near impossibility otherwise. In that scenario, these parties would have a mouthpiece in government to push forth their agenda and allow voters to better acquaint themselves with their proposals. They would then have the potential to grow their ranks, and while that is unlikely, it still gives these voters the chance to be properly represented.

The downside to a solely proportional system is that it rids citizens of electing officials who are locally-accountable. This is why most international countries that utilize Proportional Representation use a combination of the latter and First Past the Post systems. One can see examples of this in the national governments of Australia, France, Germany, Mexico, and Japan to name a few. Britain has also begun implementing a form of Proportional Representation in its devolved parliaments for Scotland and Wales. Electing, say, half of a legislative body proportionally and half in single-member districts is truly a best of both worlds approach. It gives voters in a region a voice in government who is accountable to voters of that area as well as utilizing the Proportional system to more fairly distribute the other half of the body. Required vote percentages to earn proportional seats varies by country, from Japan's meager 2% hurdle for seats in its upper house to the Russian Federation's high bar of 7%, raised by President Putin as a means to stifle opposition. The latter example shows that Proportional Representation isn't always fairly implemented, but a more modest requirement like Japan's allows for a fair seat distribution.

Switching to a partially-proportional system is easier than one might think. The way the state House of Representatives is currently elected is ideal for a half-and-half setup, as each district elects two representatives. This proposal would require no alteration of legislative district boundaries to implement. The state Senate retains 100% First Past the Post voting in its current districts, but each district would elect one representative instead of two, with the other seat in each district being elected via statewide party lists. This would make the state House of Representatives, the "people's house," half proportionally-elected. The statewide party lists allow each party on the ballot to list all their candidates seeking proportional seats. A voter would then choose which party to give his or her proportional vote by selecting which candidate in their preferred party they most desire to be elected. For example, if a voter supports the Democratic Party list and prefers Lynn Kessler above all others on the list, that voter would vote for Kessler in the Democratic list and vote in no other lists. Then if the Democratic Party earns 50% of the statewide vote, or about 24 of the 49 proportional seats, the top 24 vote getters in the Democratic list would be elected. If Kessler were in the top 24, the voter would have helped elect her on the proportional list, while if she failed to make the top 24, the voter would still have 24 Democratic representatives elected on their preferred list even if the voter's home district went Republican in its single-member districts. As for the required threshold to earn proportional seats, it would be most prudent to set it at two to three percent of the vote in the Japanese mold. This modest bar maximizes the opportunity for minor party candidates to compete, and thereby give a typically-disaffected minority of voters a reason to participate.

There's little doubt both major parties would oppose such a radical idea. They have little reason to support it. The current system favours them and with their best interests at heart would not want anyone to crash their party. This is not important, though. The parties have always resisted election reform, whether it was to bring about primary elections instead of conventions or to implement open primary systems instead of closed partisan primaries. Washington has been on the cutting edge of progressive election reform against the parties' wishes multiple times and will continue to be in the future. Being as such an idea would likely be dead long before reaching a floor vote in the legislature the obvious way to further this proposal is through the initiative process. This is not to say that I necessarily intend to do this, but in this post-election downtime I thought this was as good a time as any to put the idea out in the public sphere. If you believe in building a more fair and democratic government, it starts with how we elect our representatives. Tell your friends.


07 November 2008

The legislative picture

After another two days I think we can start to call some of these closer leg races. I'm not terribly interested in whether the media has called them or not because I think in a lot of cases the media makes poor judgments. Statewide, the only race that I think could possibly change still is the lands commissioner race, which was called for Goldmark yesterday. The others should stay where they are, which puts me on the wrong end of a few close races from my pre-election predictions. C'est la vie...

The Senate appears to have experienced a one-seat gain by the Republicans should trends hold. Randi Becker took the lead from Senator Rasmussen in the 2nd district yesterday and has extended that lead today. I always thought Rasmussen would hold on for one last term but this was certainly the #1 GOP opportunity in the Senate and I'd have judged it the most likely for either party as well. On the Democratic side, District 17 leapfrogged Districts 28 and 18 on my list, the latter two looking to be fairly easy retentions by incumbent Republicans. Senator Benton had a surprisingly close call against David Carrier, who led him in early returns, but now looks to be en route to another term. Here's the recent numbers:

LD2 - Randi Becker [R] leads Senator Rasmussen 50.4-49.6
LD10 - Senator Haugen [D] defeats Linda Haddon 54-46
LD17 - Senator Benton [R] leads David Carrier 51-49
LD18 - Senator Zarelli [R] defeats Jon Haugen 55-45
LD28 - Senator Carrell [R] defeats Debi Srail 54-46

The House has a lot more close races that aren't yet certain. Democrats look to have picked up the 17th and 41st districts and Republicans look to have picked up seats in the 6th and 26th districts. Democrats currently lead in the 6th and 10th districts but trends are running against them. A breakdown:

LD5 - Rep. Anderson [R] leads David Spring 51-49
LD6 - Kevin Parker [R] defeats Rep. Barlow 53-47, John Driscoll [D] leads Rep. Ahern 50.07-49.93
LD8 - Brad Klippert [R] leads Carol Moser 52-48
LD10 - Tim Knue [D] leads Rep. Smith 50.06-49.94
LD14 - Norm Johnson [R] leads Vickie Ybarra 52.5-47.5
LD16 - Rep. Grant [D] defeats Terry Nealey 53-47
LD17 - Tim Probst [D] defeats Joseph James 56-44
LD25 - Bruce Dammeier [R] leads Rob Cerqui 52-48
LD26 - Jan Angel [R] leads Kim Abel 52-48
LD30 - Rep. Priest [R] defeats Carol Gregory 53-47
LD39 - Rep. Kristiansen [R] defeats Scott Olson 54-46
LD41 - Marcie Maxwell [D] leads Steve Litzow 52-48
LD44 - Rep. Loomis [D] leads Mike Hope 51-49
LD45 - Rep. Goodman [D] defeats Toby Nixon 55-45
LD47 - Rep. Simpson [D] defeats Mark Hargrove 53-47

A few notes:
1. I almost want to call the 6th for Ahern based on how much he's been gaining in late counts. Driscoll has a very narrow lead but I don't think it's likely he's going to keep it, even with such huge turnout in Spokane. Similar story in the 10th, as Norma Smith has closed the gap to such a small margin with the trends going so heavily to her.
2. Benton County has about 10000 ballots left to count. Klippert holds a lead of just under 2000, and is the likely victor but I won't call it until some of those ballots are counted.
3. Yakima County has about 20000 ballots left to count, so I hesitate to call that race for Johnson. He's had a steady lead and will probably win, but like the 8th I'm waiting a little longer.
4. Pierce County is taking a long time to count its ballots because of having separate ballots for state and county offices, with the ranked choice voting going on and all. Since we don't really know how many ballots are left or from which parts of the county, I'm not going to call the 25th or 26th for a while yet.
5. I hesitate to call the 41st because Litzow has tightened the race in recent returns. Like Pierce, it's hard to know where the remaining 230000 King ballots are coming from, but I think it's best to wait on this one as well.
6. In the 44th, Hope has been closing the gap hardcore. Snohomish County has 70000 ballots left to count and I really think that one could go either way.


05 November 2008

Next day numbers

A lot has changed since last night's post, with the networks calling it for Gregoire while Rossi is keeping the faith. The 8th is a nailbiter again, as is the race for lands commissioner and OSPI, and to a lesser extent the open treasurer's seat. If we see ballots cast later trending towards Rossi at the top of the ticket then I could see the treasurer's race changing hands, but I'm thinking the spread is too much for Rossi to make a comeback. There are a lot of legislative seats still up in the air, so this post is primarily meant as an update on those. Turns out I left off a couple more House seats from the prediction sheet aside from the 25th district one I caught in time. The 17th and 10th district had races that should have been factored in and I missed them, so depending on how future counts end up it could mean the difference in one or two seats changing hands.

Key Senate races:
LD2 - Sen. Marilyn Rasmussen [D] leads Randi Becker 51-49
LD10 - Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen [D] leads Linda Haddon 53-47
LD17 - David Carrier [D] leads Sen. Don Benton 50.1-49.9
LD18 - Sen. Joe Zarelli [R] leads Jon Haugen 53.5-46.5

Key House races:
LD5 - Rep. Glenn Anderson [R] leads David Spring 50.5-49.5
LD6 - Kevin Parker [R] leads Rep. Don Barlow 51-49, John Driscoll [D] leads Rep. John Ahern 51-49
LD8 - Brad Klippert [R] leads Carol Moser 51.5-48.5
LD10 - Tim Knue [D] leads Rep. Norma Smith 51-49
LD14 - Norm Johnson [R] leads Vickie Ybarra 53-47
LD16 - Rep. Bill Grant [D] leads Terry Nealey 54-46
LD17 - Tim Probst [D] leads Joseph James 57-43
LD25 - Bruce Dammeier [R] leads Rob Cerqui 50.5-49.5
LD26 - Jan Angel [R] leads Kim Abel 51-49
LD30 - Rep. Skip Priest [R] leads Carol Gregory 51-49
LD39 - Rep. Dan Kristiansen [R] leads Scott Olson 52.5-47.5
LD41 - Marcie Maxwell [D] leads Steve Litzow 54-46
LD42 - Rep. Doug Ericksen [R] leads Mark Flanders 53-47
LD44 - Rep. Liz Loomis [D] leads Mike Hope 53-47
LD45 - Rep. Roger Goodman [D] leads Toby Nixon 55-45
LD47 - Rep. Geoff Simpson [D] leads Mark Hargrove 54-46


04 November 2008

Early returns - 9pm

So, yeah, Obama won. My state by state map I did for Eli at The Stranger's little contest is looking promising so far, with no mistakes yet. Should MT, NC, and IN fall to McCain and Obama takes MO then it'll be flawless, but at this point I'm feeling doubtful about MT and IN. So far on the statewide front we've got ridiculously close races for governor (as expected) and treasurer, with slightly larger leads for Doug Sutherland for lands commissioner and Randy Dorn for OSPI. I love the interface is using for statewide contests but it's a bitch to load, and it's even harder to load the legislative races. From what I've seen in so far the 6th district is very close with both challengers narrowly leading incumbents, which if it holds would mean parties would trade seats with new Reps. John Driscoll [D] and Kevin Parker [R].

As of right now, here's what's going on in the close statewide races:

Rossi 51.4
Gregoire 48.6

Martin 51.4
McIntire 48.6

Sutherland 53.3
Goldmark 46.7

Dorn 51.3
Bergeson 48.7

EDIT: Just looked at new legislative races, close races going on in the 8th with nutty Klippert currently leading 51.5-48.5, Tim Knue up 50.7-49.3 in the 10th, Vickie Ybarra doing better than expected but still down to Norm Johnson 52.7-47.3 in the 14th, Bill Grant edging Terry Nealey 50.6-49.4 in my own backyard of the 16th in a close one I didn't see coming, David Carrier beating Don Benton 50.1-49.9 in the 17th, Jan Angel leading in the 26th 50.8-49.2, Doug Ericksen leading a surprisingly close one in the 42nd 51.8-48.2, and Liz Loomis up 53.1-46.9 in the 44th. More to come.

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03 November 2008

Statewide elections predictions, part 2

Now for the last round of predictions, the closer statewide contests. I fear they may open me up to the charge of bias towards Republicans, but it seems to me that for the second cycle in a row their statewide candidates are going to outperform their party counterparts at the top of the ticket as well as downballot. It certainly seems that the only offices the GOP can seem to recruit well is statewide, as of late. Anyway, on to the calls:

Attorney General:
I held off on posting this in the prior predictions list on the off chance that the John Ladenburg campaign could start to close the 57-43 gap from the primary, but if recent polling is to be believed the end result might be even wider. The last SurveyUSA poll from October 27 tracked Rob McKenna at 57% while Ladenburg fell to a meager 36%. It looks to me like the Democratic Party's attempt to derail McKenna's promising career before it starts is officially over.

McKenna [R] 59
Ladenburg [D] 41

Insurance Commissioner:
I wanted to start off with this one since it was an office I accidentally left off the previous statewide post. This is a rematch between incumbent Mike Kreidler and Republican candidate John Adams. Kreidler won by 13 points in 2004 and the primary by 17, though the losing candidate was a Republican running unaffiliated and Adams will probably get most of those votes. I don't really see how Adams could close the gap when Kreidler seems to have a solid base of around 53% of the vote.

Kreidler [D] 56
Adams [R] 44

Superintendent of Public Instruction:
In the primary I went against polling in picking incumbent Terry Bergeson and was right, as she won with 39% over Randy Dorn's 34%. Just as in the primary, polling consistently shows Dorn with a lead, though he's never been anywhere close to 43%. I'm sticking with a Bergeson win as she always does far better than polling suggests and with such a high number of undecideds I think a big chunk of voters are going to go with the familiar name.

Bergeson 54
Dorn 46

Commissioner of Public Lands:
This was the only statewide race I called wrong in the primary, as incumbent Doug Sutherland edged out challenger Peter Goldmark 51-49. Polling since the primary shows Sutherland retains a slight lead:

SurveyUSA 10/27: Sutherland 45 Goldmark 43
Elway 10/19: Sutherland 38 Goldmark 33
SurveyUSA 10/13: Sutherland 47 Goldmark 38

Being that I don't put much stock into Elway polls one can deduce a slight movement towards Goldmark from SurveyUSA polling, though it's a tough call if it's enough to put him over the top. I do think that Goldmark is the toughest challenger Sutherland has had in his three statewide elections, and highly doubt the end margin will be larger than his win last time over Mike Cooper.

Sutherland [R] 51
Goldmark [D] 49

I've been really disappointed that so little coverage has been focused on this sole open statewide seat. The only polls I've seen on it have been unreliable Elways, and the media has said so little about it that there isn't much to go on aside from newspaper endorsements, fundraising, and the primary finish. Allan Martin won the primary with 45% against two Democrats, with state Rep. Jim McIntire in 2nd place at 39%. Normally the conventional wisdom would be that the 15% that went to Democrat Chang Mook Sohn would naturally flow to McIntire, but when you consider that Sohn is a moderate and McIntire has a very liberal record and represents the left-wing 46th district, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Sohn vote split roughly 50-50 (in full disclosure, the bf and I were both Sohn voters now supporting Martin). Martin won virtually all the big newspaper endorsements, and with the support of incumbent Democrat Mike Murphy I'm giving him a slight edge despite that open seats typically lean Democratic here and that a Republican hasn't held this office for eons. If nothing else, the ghost of Vic Meyers will be pleased that we'll finally have another moustache in statewide office.

Martin [R] 51
McIntire [D] 49

I think we all have our own opinions on the candidates, so I'm not going to go into that. Virtually all the reputable polls show it's a statistical tie and while it's unlikely we'll have a situation as close as 2004 this could really go either way, and my guess is as good as any of yours. Much has been made of Rossi's ballot listing as GOP, and how it has the potential to give him more votes than if he ran as Republican. The problem with the vast majority of polls is that they label him Republican, so there's the potential that he'll do better than they predict, but since this is a new situation for all of us and it hasn't been specifically proven that GOP does better than Republican (aside from what Elway tells us), we'll just have to wait and see how things turn out. The only poll that I've seen that accurately describes him in their poll wording is the Washington Poll, which tracked the race at 50-48 in Gregoire's favour in last Saturday's release. Casting aside all misgivings about the Washington Poll, and Lord knows I have them, that still shows the race in a statistical tie, which is probably where the race is and has been for a long while.

One thing that came out today was a Seattle P-I analysis that shows higher turnout in Rossi counties than Gregoire counties, Jefferson and Pacific aside. While the primary proved that Gregoire could win with poor turnout in King, I've decided to give Rossi the edge. I think a simple comparison of the two campaigns shows that he's been dictating the big issues and been much better in ads, and in a neutral year he'd probably win by a couple points. We'll just have to see if there are enough Obama-Rossi voters to put him in the governor's mansion.

Rossi [R] 50.3
Gregoire [D] 49.7


31 October 2008

House elections predictions, part 2

Now for the Republican targets. The GOP has several more opportunities than Democrats this year due to the aforementioned lack of fertile ground that comes with having supermajorities. If memory serves me right, this would be the first cycle since 2002 that legislative Republicans picked up a Democratic-held seat, but considering where they're at it's not a whole lot to build on. At least in one circumstance it will give the GOP a surburban Puget Sound seat back in their column, but it's going to take a lot of work and big Democratic blunders for them to have a truly "good" election. At least if Gregoire is able to eke out a narrow win she might actually have to take responsibility for this shitty budget situation now that she won't be able to blame it on a Republican president. But let's save that for later and focus on these GOP targets.

Republican Targets:
1. 26th District - seat gain
When Pat Lantz announced her retirement and outgoing Kitsap County Commissioner Jan Angel stepped into the race, I immediately speculated it as a GOP gain. She drew a quality challenger in ex-Port Orchard Mayor Kim Abel, but won the primary by a comfortable eight points. It's safe to say that both candidates have name recognition but it appears that Angel's is doing more for her, as she won both the Kitsap and Pierce County parts of the district by about the same margin. This might tighten up a little but I have a hard time seeing the lead change hands so dramatically.

Angel [R] 53
Abel [D] 47

2. 6th District - seat gain
Just as the GOP-held seat in the 6th is targeted by Democrats the opposite is true for freshman Rep. Don Barlow. Barlow narrowly got into the legislature as Chris Marr was easily winning the district's Senate seat in 2006, but faces a strong challenge in Republican businessman Kevin Parker. Barlow faced two Republicans in the primary and drew 45% of the vote, and while the matchup between Parker and Mel Lindauer was a little nasty at times I'd suspect Parker would be the easy beneficiary of those Lindauer voters. This isn't a situation like what's going on in the 8th where the most unsavoury primary candidate made the runoff and is likely to result in a decent amount of crossovers. Although it's currently 2D-1R the 6th is still fundamentally a Republican district and Barlow isn't likely to make it on his own.

Parker [R] 52
Barlow [D] 48

3. 45th District
I think this may well be the closest race of the cycle. Incumbent Democrat Roger Goodman won the primary by a couple hundred votes over former Rep. Toby Nixon, who vacated the seat to run unsuccessfully for the district's Senate seat in 2006. Nixon is a more tolerant and libertarian Republican and has a sizable personal vote, while Goodman hasn't really done much to make a name for himself in his first term. Still, this is the suddenly Democratic-leaning Eastside in a year where Barack Obama will be sweeping through the region at the top of the ticket. I think Nixon puts in a valiant effort only to come up a little short. I don't believe in going into decimals except for extreme circumstances (governor's race, anyone?), but I wouldn't be surprised to see this end up within a single point.

Goodman [D] 51
Nixon [R] 49

4. 44th District #2
Another tight one on primary night, the 44th race features appointed Rep. Liz Loomis against GOP challenger Mike Hope. Hope has run in the district a lot and done better than comparable Republicans there, but this is the first time he really seems to be on the cusp of a victory. He took a little over 49% in the primary, but I can't quite see him overturning the recent past in the 44th and edging out Loomis here. The 44th lost its only Republican member when Senator Dave Schmidt lost reelection in 2006, and the last time another Republican won there was 1998. This probably isn't the year to revert that trend.

Loomis [D] 52
Hope [R] 48

5. 47th District
This one is a little unique. It probably wouldn't be on the map if not for Geoff Simpson's domestic dispute charges, and while they were dropped, it probably did enough damage that he's not going to have another easy election in his career. The 47th has preferred the Democratic label like all the other suburban crescent districts as of late, but it isn't a particularly liberal district still and Simpson has always had a voting record as if he were representing Wallingford rather than Kent. GOP candidate Mark Hargrove won the primary with close to 47% while Simpson and fellow Democrat Leslie Kae Hamada split the rest. That isn't a whole lot for Hargrove to make up but I still have a hard time seeing him winning even with all of Simpson's problems. Democrats are clearly worried about this seat as they recently pulled a ridiculous stunt in accusing Hargrove of being soft on sex offenders because one donated to his campaign. I don't think they're doing Simpson any favours.

Simpson [D] 52
Hargrove [R] 48

6. 35th District
With Bill Eickmeyer's retirement the GOP has a rare opportunity for a pickup in a solidly-Democratic western Washington district. The primary pitted two Democrats against two Republicans, with the combined Democratic vote at 51%. The two who emerged from the pack are Fred Finn, Eickmeyer's handpicked would-be successor, and GOP challenger Randy Neatherlin, who ran for the seat in 2006 and previously sought a Mason County Commission seat. While Eickmeyer beat Neatherlin by an easy 20 points in 2006 this looks to be quite a bit closer, and Neatherlin is likely to benefit from Dino Rossi's presence on the ballot as Mason is a key swing county in which he is popular. That said, this is a fundamentally Democratic district and if Republicans had an easy time winning here Tim Sheldon would have probably switched long ago.

Finn [D] 53
Neatherlin [R] 47

7. 31st District
As we all know, 2006 was a year where Democrats swept the suburbs. They also infiltrated the exurb/rural 31st when Chris Hurst returned to the House by defeating Jan Shabro, the sole sane member of the district's GOP delegation. Hurst is now defending that seat against Sharon Hanek, who narrowly beat out fellow Republican Josh Hulburt for the second spot in the general election runoff. Hurst took 57% in the primary and if he could beat an entrenched incumbent attractive to crossover voters he should have similar fortunes in the runoff.

Hurst [D] 55
Hanek [R] 45

8. 28th District #1
Troy Kelley surprised a few people by winning this seat in 2006 after Gigi Talcott retired, and has since been by far the most independent-minded Democrat in the House in my opinion. He's been everything I look for in a moderate Democrat: willing to break ranks to support business interests and fiscal responsibility but doesn't waffle when it comes to social issues. Seatmate Tami Green has cast several anti-gay votes in her career, seemingly in hopes of appearing moderate and acceptable to GOP voters, but Kelley has stood up for basic fairness and staked a more conservative streak on issues that matter in the district, not trying to make personal gains on the backs of a minority group. Easily my favourite new face in the legislature, and I hope to see him go far. Swing voters seem to agree as he took 57% in the primary, giving him a 15-point margin of victory over Dave Dooley. This is quite a gain considering he only won by three points for his first term.

Kelley [D] 56
Dooley [R] 44

9. 28th District #2
Speaking of Tami Green, she was looking to have an easy ride for a third term this year when nobody filed against her, but will have to face Republican Denise McCluskey after the latter took a solid 5% of the primary vote via write-ins. Green should still have a solid advantage as an incumbent against a late-starting opponent, though. The 28th has gone from a GOP-leaner to something between a straight-up swing district and a slightly Democratic-leaner in two cycles, and with both Democratic reps looking to have an easier time this cycle than GOP Senator Carrell the district appears to continue to move in that direction. It's hard to gauge how McCluskey will do since she wasn't on the primary ballot, but I expect Green should have about as easy a time winning as her seatmate but with a little extra breathing room due to longer incumbency and McCluskey's late start.

Green [D] 57
McCluskey [R] 43

10. 44th District #1
It used to be that Hans Dunshee was a perennial target as he's an unabashed liberal in what was once a swing district, but now that the region has tilted Democratic he's enjoyed increasingly large margins of victory. He has an added bonus this cycle with Republicans focusing on appointed Rep. Loomis in the other seat rather than his own. Facing him is Larry Countryman, formerly of the Snohomish City Council. Dunshee won the primary by about 15 points, an increase over his 11-point victory over Mike Hope in 2006.

Dunshee [D] 57
Countryman [R] 43


30 October 2008

House elections predictions, part 1

Now for the House. This is where I expect there to be some shifts, though they should be minimal. Fact is, Democrats have virtually maxed-out their pickup opportunities by now that they can only target a couple seats and will have to play defense on the rest. Fortunately for them, the GOP is still not doing a very good job at targeting legislative seats, though they do have several solid candidates going this cycle. I'm predicting both sides pick up two seats, resulting in no change in membership. It's worth noting, though, that one of those Democratic pickups is Fred Jarrett's seat, which is now Democratic but I count as a pickup as it went Republican last cycle. Because of this, the seat distribution ought to be 62 Democratic vs. 36 Republican.

Democratic Targets:
1. 41st District - seat gain
The aforementioned Jarrett seat has been Democratic since he switched parties mid-term. I cast no ill judgment on Jarrett for that and hope he wins the district's Senate seat, but I am definitely hoping the GOP can hold on to his old House seat agaisnt all odds. Their candidate is Steve Litzow, a socially centre-left Mercer Island city councilman, the exact kind of candidate that used to clean up huge numbers in the 41st before it went so knee-jerk Democratic. I see Litzow as an ideological soulmate of Jarrett, the type of Republican that 41st voters need not be fearful they will vote to repeal gay rights legislation nor to jack up restrictions on abortion rights. Opposing Litzow is Democrat Marcie Maxwell, a Renton School Board member. No disrespect to Maxwell, but I see her as not much more than an acceptable, generic Democrat. Litzow is the interesting candidate in the race, but he's still fighting uphill in this district. Maxwell won the primary count by about 53-47, and I'm expecting a similar general election finish.

Maxwell [D] 54
Litzow [R] 46

2. 8th District - seat gain
This one is my upset special. The 8th has been monolithically-Republican since the 1994 elections, but they're making things hard on themselves here this cycle. Their candidate is Brad Klippert, a man anyone who follows elections in this state should know is an ultra right-wing fundamentalist nutjob from his two failed US Senate runs. Klippert should be naught but a fringe candidate with no chance but in a solid GOP district he actually stands a good chance of winning in spite of his out-of-mainstream social views. Klippert emerged from the primary with a paltry 19% in a five man race with four Republican candidates. A crowded primary is perfect for a candidate like him, where all you need to do is get your nutty base out and it's enough to earn a runoff spot. I see the 8th district (greater Richland and Kennewick area) as much more pocketbook Republicans than Leviticus Republicans, and have faith that enough of them will see Klippert for what he is instead of just checking off every candidate with an R. Democrats are running Carol Moser, a member of the state Transportation Commission and formerly a city councilmember in Richland. She took 38% in the primary but it's going to be damn difficult to get the rest of the way. Here's hoping.

Moser [D] 51
Klippert [R] 49

3. 5th District #2
One of the surprises on primary night for me was how close this district was, where Democrat David Spring, an educator, finished a mere two points behind incumbent Glenn Anderson. Anderson has been in office since first being elected in 2000, typically winning by ten points when Democrats bother to offer any opponent at all. I like to think he was as surprised as I was at Spring's performance. Long story short, this is Dino Rossi's home district and as a result of that I think GOP turnout will be strong. Spring puts in a valiant effort but comes up a little short in the end.

Anderson [R] 52
Spring [D] 48

4. 6th District
I suppose the 6th would have been similarly surprising as the 5th was on primary night were this not such a long time coming. I've made several posts on this weblog in the past about John Ahern's nuttiness, and it's high time he saw a good challenger in his suburban Spokane district. Ahern consistently rates among the most conservative members of the legislature, despite that the 6th has long been more of a moderate Republican district, even before it finally elected a Democrat in 2006. Opposing Ahern is John Driscoll, director of a universal health care advocacy group. Sounds a little liberal for Spokane, but he came fairly close in the primary with his 48% finish. Ahern probably wins, and I probably wouldn't care much for Driscoll if he were to pull off an upset, but this is one where I wouldn't mind being wrong.

Ahern [R] 53
Driscoll [D] 47

5. 39th District #1
Democrats came surprisingly close here in 2006, actually leading at times on election night, only to lose by eight points when absentees were tallied. Incumbent GOPer Dan Kristiansen is awfully conservative, but lacks the nastiness embodied by Val Stevens, so I tend to think he's pretty secure in that seat. He faces a rematch from 2006 in Scott Olson, but I'm thinking it'll be a little wider gap now that Kristiansen is more prepared.

Kristiansen [R] 56
Olson [D] 44

6. 31st District
Republican incumbent Dan Roach faces Ron Weigelt, a Buckley city councilman, in this race. Roach ran pretty easily ahead of Weigelt in the primary and I don't see much reason to think he's going to lose despite the close call he had in 2006. I'm still peeved that Chris Hurst targeted the district's moderate for his 2006 victory rather than taking out Roach instead. Sigh.

Roach [R] 57
Weigelt [D] 43

7. 39th District #2
Similar story to Kristiansen's here. Kirk Pearson is a staunchly conservative Republican in a Republican district that isn't likely to throw him out, but there's still a solid Democratic base of about 40% or so in the district. His opponent is David Personius, whom he ran far ahead of in the primary. A third candidate's 11% is up for grabs, but when Pearson took 57%, things don't look very good for the 39th district Democrats.

Pearson [R] 58
Personius [D] 42

8. 30th District
As far as I can see, Democrats are content with having Skip Priest in the legislature. He's a moderate, green-friendly, bipartisan guy who has a record of willingness to work with Democrats as he would with Republicans. The 30th is a Democratic-leaning swing district but Priest has enough personal votes that I don't ever think he's terribly endangered, at least ever since he doubled his previous margin of victory in 2006 while Republicans all across the suburban crescent were falling. His opponent is Carol Gregory, a retired educator.

Priest [R] 58
Gregory [D] 42

9. 42nd District
A similar story electorally to Priest's, Doug Ericksen seems to have achieved that level of a personal vote that is so cherished for a legislator in a district that might not always match up so well with their beliefs. I'd classify the 42nd as somewhere between moderate Republican and totally swing, but Ericksen has locked it up pretty well. Not to be confused with Priest in temperament, Ericksen is an unabashed partisan who I expect to be caucus leader down the road. His opponent this election is Mark Flanders, who Ericksen defeated by just shy of 20 points in the primary. After winning reelection in 2006 by ten points, he should be in for an easier ride.

Ericksen [R] 59
Flanders [D] 41

10. 5th District #1
Unlike seatmate Glenn Anderson, Jay Rodne had no such scare on primary night from his little-known Democratic opponent, tradesman Jon Viebrock. I expect this to be the strongest finish of 5th district Republicans because of Rodne's moderate perception amongst voters.

Rodne [R] 60
Viebrock [D] 40

Update: I made a fairly major oversight when posting this not to include the open 25th district seat being vacated by Joyce McDonald. It should have been ranked 3rd on the list, with Republican candidate Bruce Dammeier defeating Democrat Rob Cerqui 51-49. Dammeier won the primary with slightly over 50% and has been one of the best fundraisers for legislative candidates this cycle, and that's why I give him the edge.


28 October 2008

Senate elections predictions, part 2

Several days ago I posted the top five potential Democratic pickups, and this involves the Republican targets. I'm predicting no change in partisan seat distribution this cycle.

Republican Targets:
1. 2nd District:
Senator Marilyn Rasmussen is a holdover from the days Democrats dominated rural Pierce County, a socially-conservative Democrat constantly surviving in what is now fairly solid GOP territory. She won reelection in 2004 by about five points and took just over 50% in this year's primary election. Her opponent is Randi Becker, who ran far ahead of more moderate GOPer Kelly Mainard for the #2 spot in the general. With Rasmussen right at 50% against two Republicans it's quite apparent she's vulnerable yet again, but ultimately I think she's cast enough high-profile conservative votes to win with some crossover Republican support.

Rasmussen [D] 51%
Becker [R] 49%

2. 10th District:
The 10th is a similar situation to the 2nd in that the incumbent is an aging institution who is increasingly in the wrong party for the district yet continues to win narrow reelections. Mary Margaret Haugen is one of the more powerful senators in the body, chair of the transportation committee, and has a moderate record that is ideal for a Democrat in the 10th. She's been in the legislature for 25 years, though won reelection in 2004 by only three points. She earned 53% of the vote in the primary against Republican businesswoman Linda Haddon and third party candidate Sarah Hart, seemingly placing her on more solid footing than her 2nd district counterpart. The 10th has had Republican representatives in both seats since 2000, though many of those races have been narrow victories.

Haugen [D] 53%
Haddon [R] 47%

3. 25th District:
The 25th features incumbent Senator Jim Kastama against GOP challenger Michele Smith. Kastama solidified his hold on the seat with a nine point reelection in 2004 and won the primary with 56% of the vote. Like the previous two seats he typically votes a more moderate line that fits this swing district well. Democrats have fared better here the last several cycles but it is likely to continue to be a bellweather district, and right now that means Kastama is in a good position. Smith has been around the district a long time and has yet to score her first victory, and isn't terribly likely to do it here.

Kastama [D] 55%
Smith [R] 45%

4. 5th District:
The last remaining Republican bastion on the Eastside, Senator Cheryl Pflug faces reelection against Democrat Phyllis Huster, a lesbian. Pflug cast a very public vote against her caucus in the domestic partnership extension bill last biennium, a move some speculate was meant to neutralize the charge from Huster that she is not gay-friendly enough. I respect Pflug for the vote, but I don't really buy the aforementioned theory. The 5th is Rossi country and I don't think she would have had much to worry about regardless of how she voted on the issue. Democrats might be able to finally break through in the district, but it isn't going to be against Pflug.

Pflug [R] 59%
Huster [D] 41%

5. 1st District:
The 1st district has been fairly solid Democratic for most of its history. This is the district that got the ball rolling on Patty Murray's career back in the 80s (thanks a lot for that, 1st), and isn't likely to revert to Republicans at the current time. Republicans tend to do well in parts of the district at the local level, but in partisan races 1st district voters are much more likely to shy away from the label. McAuliffe has been in the seat since her first election in 1992, typically drawing victories by around ten points. She won the primary over opponent Dennis Richter by a surprisingly close 57-43%, I say "surprisingly" because she won reelection by about the same margin in 2004 against a more mainstream Republican. Richter doesn't seem to have much of a base of support and is way too conservative for the district.

McAuliffe [D] 60%
Richter [R] 40%


23 October 2008

Senate elections predictions, part 1

This post regards this cycle's Senate races, including the top 5 potential pick-up opportunities for each caucus. First off, I'm not predicting any change in the partisan seat distribution this cycle. Each side has a couple seats that could feasibly change, but I don't think any of them are especially likely. Democrats already have a 32-17 seat advantage and have few pick-up opportunities, and Republicans have a few chances to close the gap but are still at a disadvantage.

Democratic Targets
1. 28th District:
Democratic challenger Debi Srail is challenging incumbent Senator Mike Carrell in this suburban Pierce County district. Traditionally the district has been a GOP leaner, dominated for many years by liberal Republican Senator Shirley Winsley. Carrell has served the district in the legislature since 1994, first in the House and then joining the Senate by appointment following Winsley's retirement in 2004. Since that appointment, Democrats have picked up both of the district's House seats. Srail has ran twice for House seats and lost both times, but came close in the primary election where Carrell won 51.6%-48.4%. I'm predicting a similar result in the general election, where turnout will be higher but ultimately I don't see anything that suggests a flip in the results. This is a swing district, after all, and I don't think having Obama at the top of the ticket will make as big a difference as it would on the Eastside.

Carrell [R] 52%
Srail [D] 48%

2. District 18:
For all the seats Democrats have picked off in formerly-GOP suburbia, they have thus far been largely unable to break through in southwestern districts like the 17th and 18th. Senator Joe Zarelli, a lock-step conservative in a conservative district, is seeking his fourth full term. His challenger is Jon Haugen, a career military man. Zarelli won the primary 55%-45%, slightly ahead of his 54% victory for reelection in 2004 against Dave Seabrook. My assessment of this race is that Zarelli may be a little polarizing and that may continue to cause some swing voters to go Democratic for Senate while voting for Jaime Herrera and Ed Orcutt down-ballot, but should continue to win by mid to high single-digits.

Zarelli [R] 53%
Haugen [D] 47%

3. District 17:
Another southwestern seat with an endangered GOP incumbent. The 17th is more Democrat-friendly than the 18th but incumbent Senator Don Benton seems to have a firmer grasp on his seat than Zarelli in the neighbouring 18th. He was reelected in 2004 by twelve points and won his primary against college professor David Carrier by nine points. Carrier will keep it close but I have a hard time seeing Benton go down after he scared off bigger names in the early-going.

Benton [R] 54%
Carrier [D] 46%

4. District 39:
In the interest of full disclosure, for anybody who hasn't read this weblog in the past, I will readily admit to my intense dislike for Val Stevens. There is nothing I would like more than to see her hateful, fundamentalist rhetoric soundly denounced by voters in her staunchly-conservative district. I'm fully prepared to be disappointed yet again, as her Democratic opponent has way too much baggage to have a shot. Fred Walser suffers from several transgressions as police chief for the city of Sultan and has plead guilty to a misdemeanor offense for providing false information while in office. Making no moral judgment on these problems, I'm quite certain it makes it close to impossible to win. Indeed, Stevens took nearly 60% of the vote in the primary election compared to mid-50s in her three previous general election showings.

Stevens [R] 58%
Walser [D] 42%

5. District 40:
The open 40th presents an opportunity for Republicans that they normally wouldn't have, being able to target what is normally a solidly-Democratic seat. Unfortunately for them, this is a pretty rotten year to try to convince a group of Democratic-leaning voters to crossover to even a good Republican candidate. They're running former Rep. Steve Van Luven while San Juan County Councilman Kevin Ranker emerged from the crowded Democratic field to make the runoff. Van Luven "won" the primary, taking 38% of the vote, but when you consider that he was running against five Democrats and an also-ran, it's quite apparent he has a long way to go. Especially against Ranker, arguably the most likable of the possible Democratic candidates. Ranker has the support of the major newspapers in the district and there's no reason to think this will turn out close even with the calibre of Van Luven.

Ranker [D] 59%
Van Luven [R] 41%

Next up are the five best Republican targets.


20 October 2008

Statewide election predictions, part 1

Apologies for not updating the spreadsheet yet, it's updated but my FTP program is causing me problems. I decided that I might as well just get its contents public through blog entries and that would also allow me to provide the thought process behind them at the same time.

This lists the easy predictions for our statewide offices, the ones that aren't likely to change shape from here until election day. If there's a huge scandal that changes that perception I suppose I'll update it in the post involving our more marquee races.

Lieutenant Governor:
The easy call is Brad Owen, the incumbent running for his fourth term. Owen took 52% in a four-way primary, I suspect he'll pick up another few points to win with his usual mid-50s percentage. Opposing Owen is Republican Marcia McCraw, an attorney who I'd like to see a lot more of in the future. McCraw is my type of Republican, a pro-choice moderate from Seattle, the sort I've been harping on the party to run more of at the legislative level. I'm not sure lieutenant governor is the right office for McCraw, though, and I'd like to see her take a shot at a county council or legislative seat in the future. I understand that it would be a losing venture in Democratic Seattle, but I'm of the opinion that the more the GOP runs candidates like McCraw and Leslie Bloss the further they'll go towards rebuilding their support and earning a better shot at winning in the area down the road. If not this route, Rob McKenna should offer McCraw a job in the AG office and get her experience to run for the position when he inevitably seeks higher office.

All this said, Owen has the pedigree for the job. He too is moderate, independent-minded, and bipartisan. He's been in the legislature and LG's office forever and is well-versed in parliamentary procedure. I voted for Owen based on the job, but I cannot stress enough what a fan I've become of McCraw in the process.

Owen [D] 55
McCraw [R] 45

Secretary of State:
Sam Reed took nearly 60% of the vote in the primary, winning every county. There's no reason to think the runoff will be anything but another landslide, though it might not result in a clean sweep. The only thing that seems to have changed is that The Stranger pussed out and switched their support to challenger Jason Osgood, which might have changed the minds of some of their lockstep readership, but certainly not enough to cause Reed to break a sweat.

Reed [R] 59%
Osgood [D] 41%

Incumbent Brian Sonntag dropped a bit from his 2004 reelection campaign, namely because he's no longer running against Will Baker. He still earned almost 60% and is running against an opponent he beat by 20 points in 2000. This should mirror the secretary of state race in that virtually all the state's independent voters will swing uniformly and leave only the ~40% base on the losing end.

Sonntag [D] 61%
McEntee [R] 39%

Look for the remainder of the statewide races next week. I intend on doing Senate races later this week and House races someplace in-between.


19 August 2008

Primary recap

Not all the runoff pictures are set in stone yet, but from what we know now I'm quite satisfied with my predictions. For statewide races I called them all pretty close, with the only real disappointment being Chang Mook Sohn's poor result in the treasurer's race. As of this posting, Doug Sutherland narrowly leads the lands commissioner race 51-49, not far off of the 52-48 call I made going in favour of opponent Peter Goldmark. Other surprises of the night include the apparent dominance of Sam Reed, Rob McKenna, and Terry Bergeson, all currently winning by greater than expected margins. Especially in the case of Reed, whose surprising 54-40 win in King County is easily the best for a Republican there in several cycles.

On the legislative front, there were a few hiccups. First, my John Waite gamble didn't pay off, though it is a pretty tight race between him and the two Republicans for the 3rd district House seat held by Alex Wood. Diana Wilhite really underperformed in the 4th, which has been the biggest surprise of the night for me. As the mayor of Spokane Valley, I would have expected a much stronger result than 20%. I knew Matt Shea was a strong candidate, but apparently underestimated the name recognition factor in that race.

In the 8th House district Carol Moser easily won as the only Democrat, but it remains to be seen who her GOP challenger will be. At the moment the leader for that spot is Brad Klippert, an extreme conservative who makes Val Stevens look cuddly and reasonable, with moderately-conservative businessman Skip Novakovich a little under 300 votes behind. The other tight race out east is the 7th district, where Sue Lani Madsen currently leads Shelley Short by about 50 votes.

On the west side, John Burbank seems to have won the first round in the race to replace Helen Sommers, though I still think Reuven Carlyle is the man to beat in that match. Scott White ran rather easily ahead of Gerry Pollet for all of the drama surrounding that race. In the 28th district Senate race, which was a foregone conclusion as it only has two candidates, is amusingly tight as incumbent Mike Carrell is now tied with Debi Srail with 5,790 votes. The open 25th seat was assumed to advance Democrat Rob Cerqui with GOP moneymaker Bruce Dammeier, which is the case but it remains to be seen which candidate will have bragging rights going into the runoff. Cerqui has held a small lead most of the night but at the current time is a mere 25 votes.


18 August 2008

Primary predictions: legislative

Here are my predictions for several hand-picked races from across the state that are being effected by the new primary system. These are mostly open seats with lots of candidates, but there are some exceptions. While I've not spent a lot of time examining our federal races aside from looking at polls as they come out, I'm including a brief write-up about the Reichert-Burner race at the bottom just because it's probably the second most important race in the state this cycle.

11th Senate District:
Margarita Prentice [D] 65%
Juan Martinez [D] 27%

20th Senate District:
Dan Swecker [R] 45%
Chuck Bojarski [D] 35%

40th Senate District:
Steve Van Luven [R] 30%
Kevin Ranker [D] 24%
Ranker should come out as the highest Democrat due to his organizational edge, though Ken Henderson will keep it close. Van Luven should win as the only Republican.

3rd House District #1:
Alex Wood [D] 55%
John Waite [I] 19%
-supporting Waite
I like Waite a lot, and think he might be able to overcome his lack of partisan help for a place in the runoff. He's a moderate in a liberal district and against two Republicans could end up beating them out for a place in the runoff. His endorsement by the Spokesman Review should help out quite a bit.

4th House District #2:
Diana Wilhite [R] 32%
Tim Hattenburg [D] 29%

6th House District #1:
Don Barlow [D] 47%
Kevin Parker [R] 31%

7th House District #1:
Shelly Short [R] 38%
Sue Lani Madsen [R] 33%

8th House District #1:
Carol Moser [D] 35%
Rick Jansons [R] 28%

14th House District #1:
Vickie Ybarra [D] 33%
Norm Johnson [R] 30%

17th House District #1:
Tim Probst [D] 45%
Joseph James [R] 31%

35th House District #2:
Fred Finn [D] 34%
Randy Neatherlin [R] 26%

36th House District #1:
Reuven Carlyle [D] 44%
John Burbank [D] 35%
-supporting Carlyle, Leslie Bloss [R]

8th Congressional District:
Dave Reichert [R] 51%
Darcy Burner [D] 44%
Burner will almost assuredly come in second in the primary due to the other two Democratic candidates in the race but ultimately I doubt either will lose much to the also-rans. I'll probably catch some hell about this from all the Burner cheerleaders, but I'm keeping my Reichert prediction from last cycle and barring some major event between now and November will also be predicting him in the runoff. He's led in every nonpartisan poll I've seen of the race and while he's always hovering around 50% I expect his personal vote to come out in enough force to allow him another slight victory. We all know the 8th district likes to ticket-split and I don't see any signs this vocal minority is going to succumb to straight-ticket voting this year even with Barack Obama dominating the district. Burner's money and grassroots support are strong but as a second-try candidate has a lot to overcome. Dino Rossi will be in a similar situation and while I'd love to think otherwise he will also probably lose a close race.


17 August 2008

Primary predictions: statewide

With only two days left until our first top two primary (suck it, Pelz), I thought it might be worthwhile to come back to the weblog and post some primary predictions. Today will be statewide contests and tomorrow will be legislative contests should I have the opportunity to post. Given the nature of the primary I will be listing which two candidates I think will advance along with their percentage of the vote. I also made note in some races for which candidate I voted for. For races I don't feel particularly solid for either candidate I did not make such a note.

Chris Gregoire [D] 48%
Dino Rossi [R] 45%
-supporting Rossi

Lt Governor:
Brad Owen [D] 55%
Marcia McCraw [R] 29%
-supporting Owen

Secretary of State:
Sam Reed [R] 53%
Jason Osgood [D] 43%
-supporting Reed

Allan Martin [R] 38%
Jim McIntire [D] 33%
-supporting Chang Mook Sohn [D]

Brian Sonntag [D] 59%
Dick McEntee [R] 36%
-supporting Sonntag

Attorney General:
Rob McKenna [R] 54%
John Ladenburg [D] 46%
-supporting McKenna

Lands Commissioner:
Peter Goldmark [D] 52%
Doug Sutherland [R] 48%

Terry Bergeson 38%
Randy Dorn 32%
-supporting Bergeson

Insurance Commissioner:
Mike Kreidler [D] 54%
John Adams [R] 39%

Supreme Court #3:
Mary Fairhurst 57%
Michael Bond 43%

Supreme Court #4:
Charles Johnson 62%
James Beecher 23%
-supporting Johnson


01 July 2008

WCV releases legislative scorecard for 2007-2008

Washington Conservation Voters, an interest group that advocates environmental protection, released its voting record scorecard for our legislature today. Unlike other interest groups that issue ratings, WCV does biennial scorecards rather than annual.

Each time one of these groups releases its rating sheets I find it interesting to look them over. It can give readers an idea of which legislators are willing to vote independently of their caucus on which issues, and in the game of moderate politics, that's a worthwhile venture. Below are the highlights of the scorecard, including which members scored at the top and bottom of their respective caucus. For the Awards section, all listed are Democrats unless otherwise noted.

2007 Legislator of the Year: Senator Phil Rockefeller
2008 Legislator of the Year: Senator Chris Marr
Senate Environmental Champions: Lisa Brown, Craig Pridemore.
House Environmental Champions: Tom Campbell [R], Frank Chopp, Mary Lou Dickerson, Hans Dunshee, Fred Jarrett, Skip Priest [R], Christine Rolfes, Geoff Simpson, Dave Upthegrove.
Senate Good Deeds: Darlene Fairley, Karen Fraser, Jim Hargrove, Margarita Prentice, Debbie Regala.
House Good Deeds: Bill Fromhold, Zack Hudgins, Sam Hunt, Ross Hunter, Ruth Kagi, Kelli Linville, John McCoy, Sharon Nelson, Eric Pettigrew, Jay Rodne [R].
Senate Green Duds: Steve Hobbs, Jim Kastama, Cheryl Pflug [R].
House Green Duds: Richard DeBolt [R], Jim Dunn [R], Deb Wallace.

It isn't my intent in summarizing these ratings to judge the validity of the scores or express my own opinions on their aims, but I must briefly protest how WCV treats Hobbs and Wallace in this cycle's scorecard. Considering both these legislators supported their aims over 90% of the time, I think it's a bit harsh to decry their entire performance based on one vote the organization didn't like.

Senate Democrats - High
Tied at 100

Senate Democrats - Low
Tim Sheldon 46
Mary Margaret Haugen 77
Brian Hatfield 77
Jim Hargrove 77
Jim Kastama 77
Jean Berkey 77

Senate Republicans - High
Jim Clements 50 (2007 only)
Cheryl Pflug 46
Don Benton 46
Mike Carrell 46
Dan Swecker 42
Pam Roach 42

Senate Republicans - Low
Jim Honeyford 8
Jerome Delvin 9
Curtis King 14 (2008 only)
Bob Morton 15
Mark Schoesler 15
Janea Holmquist 15
Val Stevens 15

House Democrats - High
Tied at 100

House Democrats - Low
Bill Grant 55
Troy Kelley 73
Brian Blake 82
Dean Takko 82
Lynn Kessler 82
Kevin Van de Wege 82

House Republicans - High
Skip Priest 82
Chris Strow 80 (2007 only)
Jay Rodne 73
Shirley Hankins 70
Joyce McDonald 64
Maureen Walsh 64
Barbara Bailey 64
Glenn Anderson 64

House Republicans - Low
Steve Hailey 0
Jim Dunn 9
Tied at 18

For the partisan highs and lows it seems to be the usual suspects, with Tim Sheldon being the Democratic anomaly and Skip Priest continuing to look like the most moderate legislator. Otherwise notable was the fact that in the 16th district GOP Rep. Maureen Walsh scored a higher rating than Democratic seatmate Bill Grant.


08 June 2008

Spreadsheet update

A new spreadsheet is now available which reflects all the new filings last week. Rankings have also changed slightly.


04 June 2008

Filing week update

Halfway through filing week, here are the current crop of candidates for statewide office:

Governor: John W. Aiken, Jr. [R], Christine Gregoire [D], Christopher Tudor [None]
Lieutenant Governor: Brad Owen [D]
Secretary of State: C. Mark Greene [Party of Commons], Marilyn Montgomery [Constitution], Jason Osgood [D], Sam Reed [R]
Treasurer: Allan Martin [R], Jim McIntire [D]
Auditor: Glenn Freeman [Constitution], Brian Sonntag [D]
Attorney General: John Ladenburg [D], Rob McKenna [R]
Commissioner of Public Lands: Peter Goldmark [D], Doug Sutherland [R]
OSPI: David Blomstrom, Randy Dorn, Don Hansler
Insurance Commissioner: Mike Kreidler [D]


02 June 2008

Filing day #1

As opposed to my usual practice of listing a bunch of candidates during filing week, I've chosen instead to provide just the statewide candidates. Full lists of candidates for state offices will be available in a future spreadsheet update, tentatively scheduled for this weekend.

Governor: Christine Gregoire [D]
Lieutenant Governor: Brad Owen [D]
Secretary of State: C. Mark Greene [Party of Commons], Jason Osgood [D], Sam Reed [R]
Auditor: Brian Sonntag [D]
Attorney General: John Ladenburg [D]
OSPI: Randy Dorn, Don Hansler


29 May 2008

Three credible entries for 14th district seat

Today's Yakima Herald had profiles of three potentially-strong candidates for the 14th district House seat being vacated by GOPer Mary Skinner. The Democratic candidate is Vickie Ybarra, who is board president of Yakima Public Schools. Two Republicans are profiled: Yakima city councillor Norm Johnson, and former Union Gap Public Schools superintendent Bob McLaughlin. Like Ybarra and McLaughlin, Johnson's background is also in education, as he was formerly a teacher and principal in Mabton and Toppenish, and was in municipal office in both cities, as well.

Yakima city councillor Susan Whitman, who balked at the chance to contest the other open House seat in 2006, says she remains undecided. Johnson seems to be the establishment choice for the GOP, with the district's other legislators and much of the Yakima municipal government behind him.

In the 2006 contest, I gave Democrats credit for running a good candidate for the open seat, but in the end they still lost 60-40. Ybarra also seems to be a solid choice, being a municipal officeholder and supposed moderate, but this seat has to remain as GOP favoured. That said, I'd expect Ybarra to make the general election and keep this otherwise solid GOP district from sending two Republicans to the runoff.

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15 May 2008

Predictions update

The predictions spreadsheet has been updated to include new candidate entries since the last update, and is available for download at right. Rankings and control changes have not been updated at this time, nor have individual seat predictions save for those seats that have only now become contested.

Notable candidate changes now updated that I have yet to mention in any posts include:

-Anacortes Port Commissioner Steve Hopley joining the 40th Senate race
-Tim Hattenburg joining the open 4th district House race
-Shirley Hankins and Mary Skinner retirements
-Fife City Councillor Rob Cerqui challenging Bruce Dammeier for 25th House seat


06 May 2008

Haler isn't getting off scot free after all

With all eyes focused on whether Shirley Hankins will run for reelection to her 8th district House seat, seatmate Larry Haler was seemingly getting a free ride. With all the big local names (Carol Moser, Rick Jansons, to a lesser extent Brad Klippert) jumping in the first race, I expected Haler to draw a no-name challenger and win with 70% of the vote again, but a former municipal officeholder has thrown a wrench in that scenario. Rob Welch, up until recently a city councillor and mayor, is challenging Haler as a Republican, and with the new Top Two primary in place, it could easily become one of those choice one-party runoffs that have party goons across the state up in arms.

Not to go off on a Pelz-hating tangent here, but this could be a prime example of what is so great about the Top Two. An incumbent that would have otherwise been heading down the road to an easy victory now has a fight on his hands, and I couldn't care less that it's coming from a member of the same party. I'm not picking on Larry Haler here, but in general terms when you might have a poor legislator in a district where they aren't going to get a needed challenge from the opposing party there isn't anything wrong with getting it from the same party. Unlike these bullshit smoke-filled room PCO nominating conventions, this sounds like democracy.

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30 April 2008

Olde tyme legislator to run for OSPI

According to the News Tribune, former state Rep. Randy Dorn will soon be announcing a run for superintendent of public instruction. He was formerly a high school principal and currently heads the Public School Employees of Washington, the second largest teachers' union in the state.

Dorn served the 2nd legislative district from his 1987 appointment to his 1994 loss to Republican Scott Smith. Since the 1994 GOP landslide, only Marilyn Rasmussen has been able to keep a Democratic foothold in the rural Pierce County district.

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24 April 2008

Majority supports nonpartisan offices in King County

A poll by SurveyUSA shows 53% of King County residents support a proposition pushed by Pete von Reichbauer to make most of the county's offices nonpartisan. Specifically, it would make the executive, assessor, and county council offices nonpartisan, potentially making it easier for Republican candidates. That isn't the tune being whistled by von Reichbauer and the proposition's supporters, but I think it's fairly clear what the motivation behind it is. Anyway, crosstabs are located here.

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22 April 2008

40th District: Today's news

Two new candidates joined the race to replace Senator Spanel in the 40th legislative district today, as the race seems to change on an almost daily basis. One is Paul Gonzales, a veteran of the Washington State Patrol and former member of the Mount Vernon City Council, and the other is Stephanie Kountouros, a coordinator of the Whatcom For Obama campaign. They join these candidates already in the race:

Hue Beattie [D], Democratic state committeeman for Whatcom County
Ken Henderson [D], former Whatcom County Councilman
Kevin Ranker [D], San Juan County Councilman
Steve Van Luven [R], former state representative

While the 40th is solidly Democratic, the large number of Democrats in the race should mean that Van Luven can expect a spot in the runoff.

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11 April 2008

Lonergan runs with GOP

According to PolitickerWA, Tacoma city councillor Mike Lonergan will no longer run for Pierce County executive as an Independent and will instead return to his true party, the GOP. Lonergan had been a candidate with the GOP in the past for Congress but had previously attempted to shed the connection considering his position in safely-Democratic Tacoma.

This means both parties have two strong contenders for the seat, as Lonergan joins Pierce County councillor Shawn Bunney on the Republican side with Pierce County auditor Pat McCarthy and county councillor Calvin Goings on the Democratic side. Reading Lonergan's press release it seems like he's going to attempt to be the right-wing candidate in the race, claiming he follows the party platform 100% of the time. This is probably to contrast himself with the more pragmatic Bunney, but it will likely result in ceding Tacoma to McCarthy. That specifically is what I don't understand about this change, as at least while he ran Independent he could have probably contested Tacoma given his name recognition from city office. I just don't see him taking the suburbs when that's home field for both Bunney and Goings.

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06 April 2008

Spreadsheet Update

A new predictions spreadsheet is now available for download, with up to date candidate entries and some changes in predictions. I rearranged the target lists for both parties based on recent candidate entries and in one case changed the predicted outcome. I'm now predicting a Republican retention in the 25th district seat being vacated by Joyce McDonald due to Democratic troubles finding a candidate and the fundraising success of GOP candidate Bruce Dammeier.

I intend to offer updated write-ups on the target lists in the near future.


31 March 2008

Another ex-legislator runs for Senate

According to the Bellingham Herald, former Rep. Steve Van Luven will seek the open 40th district Senate seat being vacated by Harriet Spanel. Van Luven represented the 48th in the House for nearly 20 years until he lost the GOP line to Luke Esser in the district's Senate election in 2002. Supposedly he's lived in Skagit County the bulk of his life but represented the Eastside because his professional life was centered in Bellevue.

From what I can remember, Van Luven was a fairly reasonable, moderatish Republican while in the House. Not that I think anyone but a Democrat will win in the 40th, but the GOP could do a lot worse. That is, I assume Van Luven is still a Republican despite that he says he won't file a party affiliation now that the Top Two primary has been upheld by SCOTUS.

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28 March 2008

GOP challenge for Swecker

Lewis County Senator Dan Swecker got a primary challenge today from an ex-legislator. Neal Kirby represented northwest Washington as a Democrat for one year in 1990 when then-Rep. Tom Bristow resigned his seat. Kirby did not seek reelection in that fall's elections, where Bob Morton got his start by being elected to his first term (thanks for that, Neal). That makes Kirby the last Democrat to represent the 7th legislative district, but somewhere along the line he apparently switched parties and will be running for the 20th district Senate seat as a Republican.

Much as I'd adore seeing Swecker go down to pretty much anybody, I'm skeptical that anything will come of this challenge. Kirby has not run an actual campaign that I'm aware of and hasn't served in the legislature for almost 20 years. Beyond that, he's running on the opposite side of the state from where he served, so virtually any advantage he would have had as an ex-legislator is erased. He seems to be running to Swecker's right, as he's critical of the incumbent for being too conciliatory to Chris Gregoire and majority Democrats.

Also running for the seat is Democrat Chuck Bojarski, whom Swecker defeated in his last reelection campaign.

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