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.

06 November 2006

Senate election prediction

As promised, though later than I intended due to losing power and Blogger's autosave not functioning correctly, below are my predictions for what I believe will be our ten most closely-contested state Senate races. Consistent with what I've been predicting all along, I expect the Democrats to win most of the close contests and have a large majority next session. Much of this is due to which seats are up this cycle for Republicans, but they are also to blame for a lack of inspiring candidates. Hopefully they will begin to figure out that they need to run centrists in the swing districts to compete with Democrats, who have long since figured out that necessity.

1. 26th District: I’m aware that the 26th Legislative District is arguably the state’s most closely-divided swing district and this is an open Senate seat. However, I believe so strongly in Derek Kilmer’s campaign that I believe it to be the most likely seat to change party hands this Senate cycle. In only one term in the House, Kilmer has firmly established himself as one of the Legislature’s most centrist and fiscally-conservative Democrats. He drew the tougher challenger in Jim Hines, but he’s raised four times as much and spent nearly every dime of it. I not only feel confident to predict there will be a Senator Kilmer next session, but when the time comes around for Norm Dicks to retire from Congress, I predict he will be replaced by Derek Kilmer.

Derek Kilmer [D] 55%
Jim Hines [R] 45%

2. 48th District: I know this is the “race of the year” for the Legislature, and considering how well-publicized it has been and that both candidates have raised over $300,000 in running for the seat, I feel as sure as ever that Rodney Tom will emerge with the victory. Much has been made about the suburban crescent trending towards the Democrats, and while I think that has more to do with the fact that the Democratic Party is leaps and bounds ahead of the Republican Party in tailoring candidate ideologies to the district they’re running in than any particular affinity for the Democratic label, this race truly underscores that point. Nine times out of ten, Senator Esser tows the conservative line. In a district where the then-liberal Republican Tom was barely able to edge a nobody opponent for reelection, Esser should be DOA. His money changes that, but Tom still has a far clearer path to victory.

Rodney Tom [D] 53%
Luke Esser [R] 47%

3. 6th District: For the record, I predicted Laurie Dolan would beat Brad Benson in 2004, only to lose by a slim margin. Benson’s victory then was in spite of being at a financial disadvantage, and as hesitant as I am to make the same mistake twice, I simply cannot predict him to win reelection to a full term being at an even larger financial disadvantage to an even better opponent. Democrat Chris Marr won’t win by much, but I’m confident he will break the generations-old losing streak of the 6th District Democratic Party.

Chris Marr [D] 52%
Brad Benson [R] 48%

4. 47th District: I wouldn’t be so down on this race if the Republicans had nominated a good candidate. Considering that not long ago this seat was somewhere between a Republican leaner and solidly Republican, the idea of soon having an all-Democratic Legislative delegation is rather surprising. Claudia Kauffman I do not believe to be on the same candidate quality plane as comparable Democratic candidates this cycle, but against an unknown Mike Riley with far more money, she is unlikely to lose the race.

Claudia Kauffman [D] 52%
Mike Riley [R] 48%

5. 31st District: Pam Roach defeated Yvonne Ward in 2002 by about 3% of the vote, in a year favourable to Republicans and without any other real contested races in the district. This year, both House races ought to be close and Democrats will generally be favoured in tight races. I believe Ward will be the beneficiary of enough vote movement to win this race, though I expect it to be a very close result in the end. Roach for many years has been a controversial figure, and this may well be the end of the road. Still, she’s spent most of her tenure in the Senate looking for opportunities to win other offices, so this should free up enough time for her to continue pursuing them.

Yvonne Ward [D] 51%
Pam Roach [R] 49%

6. 45th District: In spite of Democrat Eric Oemig’s huge fundraising numbers, I have had and still have my bet on Rep. Toby Nixon to win this seat, being vacated by Sen. Bill Finkbeiner. Nixon is ideologically in-tune with the district, has the name recognition advantage from his two terms in the House, and in turn has the experience to match. I fear that Oemig might be a little liberal for the 45th, which does elect moderate Democrats on occasion but I find unlikely to choose him over a moderate Republican like Nixon. Oemig’s experience in the tech industry is enough to bring in big bucks and proves he’s a credible candidate, but I don’t think he can avoid the electoral Whammy.

Toby Nixon [R] 52%
Eric Oemig [D] 48%

7. 44th District: The dark horse for the SDCC this year is Steve Hobbs in the 44th district, and even then it would not be a big surprise if he wins. The 44th nominally leans Democratic, and a moderate Democrat like Hobbs makes for an even stronger candidate. However, I believe incumbent Sen. Dave Schmidt will probably be reelected by a slight margin in the end. Between his one Senate win and four House wins, he has proven a consistent bet despite the district’s partisan lean. The one thing that might work against his reelection is his apparent interest in an open Snohomish County auditor position when Bob Terwilliger leaves in the near future. Having recently flirted with positions outside the legislature, voters may be reminded about Schmidt’s potential lack of commitment to serving as their senator.

Dave Schmidt [R] 53%
Steve Hobbs [D] 47%

8. 30th District: This is the GOP’s best hope for a seat pickup, but even then is not that great of a chance. This seat, while in a moderate swing district, should favour incumbent Sen. Tracey Eide if history is any judge. Eide, like Democratic Rep. Mark Miloscia, has a record of fiscal responsibility that is key for a Democrat in such a district. Republican opponent Renee Maher is a credible opponent with decent funding, but in a district that prefers a centrist approach and has a history of rewarding legislators for such an approach, there is little reason to believe Eide will lose (or either House member, for that matter).

Tracey Eide [D] 55%
Renee Maher [R] 45%

9. 42nd District: From the beginning here I did not find Jesse Salomon to be a credible enough candidate to defeat Sen. Dale Brandland, even with his occasional gaffe. Brandland is ideologically good for the district, being a pro-choice, pro-civil unions Republican, but his attitude should have triggered a stronger and better-financed opponent from the SDCC. I think if Kelli Linville had run in Salomon’s place she would be the district’s next senator, but as it currently stands I see little possibility of Brandland losing reelection.

Dale Brandland [R] 56%
Jesse Salomon [D] 44%

10. 33rd District: Republican candidate Karen Steele is pretty well-financed for such a solidly-Democratic district, but I see no reason why voters would throw out Sen. Karen Keiser. This district could be won by a moderate Republican in an open seat contest, but otherwise is pretty much off-limits.

Karen Keiser [D] 59%
Karen Steele [R] 41%


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