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.

30 December 2007

Initial Legislative Outlook - House Democrats

Unlike their Senate counterparts, House Democrats still look to have a fine shot at picking up additional seats on top of their current supermajority. Starting out, I'm predicting a three-seat Democratic gain, counting the Jarrett seat as a pick up as well given that it last elected a Republican. Considering how conservative I'm trying to be with these initial predictions, this means we could see the party eclipse 70 seats if they continue to recruit solid candidates and have some more good fortune.

1. Vacant, 41st District (Jarrett): Given recent Democratic dominance on the Eastside, and especially their swift movement in the 41st, in an open seat we have to give Democrats the benefit of the doubt. Yes, Republicans seem to have found a fine candidate in Mercer Island City Councilman Steve Litzow, but even with a good Republican the Democratic Party ought to have the advantage. The first Democrat to file is Marcie Maxwell, a member of the Renton School Board.

2. Rep. Jim Dunn, 17th District: Let's face it, Dunn is pretty much sunk. He already should have lost, winning by less than 1% to Pat Campbell while the Democratic Party's preferred candidate sat on the sidelines, added to this Dunn's recent misogynistic gaffe and I have a hard time seeing a scenario where he wins. The GOP should probably try to topple him in a primary with a more moderate candidate for this suburban district. Announced for the Democrats is Tim Probst.

3. Vacant, 25th District (McDonald): Now that Joyce McDonald is leaving this seat to run for the Pierce County Council, Democrats have a real chance to sweep this Puyallup-based district for the first time in nearly 20 years. Seatmate Dawn Morrell solidified herself with a 20-point victory last year, and given the poor luck for Republicans beyond McDonald in recent cycles I think an open seat would lean Democratic. The only announced candidate thus far is Republican Bruce Dammeier, whom I admit to not knowing anything about, which isn't a great start when you're running in a swing district like this.

4. Vacant, 10th District (Strow): At least until the GOP appoints Strow's replacement in a few days, this vacant seat should be at the top of the Democratic list. Running for them is Tim Knue, who narrowly lost to Barbara Bailey in the district's other House seat last year. While this seat leans Republican and may well stay that way (especially if Norma Smith wins the appointment as expected), Knue should be able to compete well for the Democrats.

5. Rep. Barbara Bailey, 10th District: As mentioned above, Bailey won a close race for reelection last time and will likely run another close race. Potential Democrats include Ann McDonald and Patricia Terry.

6. Rep. Dan Roach, 31st District: Had I had my way, Chris Hurst would have run against Roach last year and left reasonable GOPer Jan Shabro alone, and may well have won by an even larger margin. Instead, the 31st is once again split yet still dominated by obnoxiously authoritarian Roaches. The Democratic bench in this rural district is sparse, but they did find Buckley City Councilman Ron Weigelt to run.

7. Rep. Jaime Herrera, 18th District: While the 18th is not exactly fertile ground for Democrats, they'll have as good a shot as any against appointed Rep. Herrera, who is untested at the ballot box. She may face some GOP disillusionment over her predecessor, Rep. Richard Curtis [R-Davenport Tower], but unless she does something controversial in her virgin legislative session I doubt she'll have much problem. Announced on the Democratic side is VaNessa Duplessie.

8. Rep. Dan Kristiansen, 39th District: Despite his leadership position in the House GOP and the solid GOP tilt of the 39th, Kristiansen caught a scare in 2006 from a political unknown, only winning by eight points. He'll probably be fine in 2008 as the Democrats have little bench in the 39th, but given his close call last time he has to be included in the target list.

9. Rep. Kirk Pearson, 39th District: Pearson faced no challenger in 2006, yet is included on the list due to that the 39th has been closer than it should be as of late for other races. If Val Stevens and Dan Kristiansen might be vulnerable here, less visible Pearson will be as well.

10. Rep. Doug Ericksen, 42nd District: While Ericksen seems to have solidified his seat and is on the fast track to GOP leadership, the 42nd remains a premiere swing district that tends to give Republicans closer races than Democrats as far as incumbents go. Seatmate Kelli Linville won big while Republicans Ericksen and Dale Brandland won by more modest margins, but ultimately the independence of 42nd voters will likely keep the district split.


29 December 2007

Initial Legislative Outlook - Senate Republicans

As I said earlier, the seats that are up in the Senate this cycle aren't particularly strong for either party, and I don't expect there to be much movement either way. Democrats already have nearly 2/3 of the seats and don't have a whole lot to choose from, but despite this things don't look any better for Republican pickup opportunities. They haven't picked up a Senate seat since Dale Brandland edged out Georgia Gardner way back in 2002, and given the party's lack of success I would not be the least bit surprised to see the trend continue into 2010. However, there are several vulnerable seats that they could take if they can actually recruit a good candidate.

1. Senator Mary Margaret Haugen, 10th District: Sure, Senator Haugen has been around for decades and maintains a solid personal vote to keep her in office even as the district has been trending Republican. However, after winning reelection with only 3% of the vote, she seems more vulnerable than ever before. I thought the GOP would have had a pickup here if they had run Chris Strow, but that seems out of the question now that he's resigned from the House, yet the emergence of a municipal officeholder or other well-known candidate could still topple as moderate a Democrat as Haugen.

2. Senator Marilyn Rasmussen, 2nd District: Senator Rasmussen is another example of an aging moderate Democrat in an increasingly unfriendly district. A Democrat hasn't won one of the district's House seats since 1994, yet she has thus far been able to keep her seat with her populist message. She won by five points in 2004 against an underfunded opponent, and will likely be in for another close race regardless of the caliber of the candidate.

3. Senator Jim Kastama, 25th District: While the 25th has been very friendly to Democrats as of late, Kastama could still be in for a close race against the right candidate. Though considering it's been a while since a Republican not named Joyce McDonald has won here, and that since she's seeking a Pierce County Council seat, Kastama has to be favoured.

4. Senator Rosemary McAuliffe, 1st District: Moving further away from seats Republicans have a realistic shot at winning, Senator McAuliffe will likely only be toppled in a perfect GOP storm. She won by 14% against a pretty quality Republican opponent in 2004, and given the GOP hasn't won in the district since 1996, I suspect she'll keep her seat by 10-15 points. Not to say the GOP hasn't been close, but they need to get over the top once before I'll once again believe they can compete in this district.

5. Senator Craig Pridemore, 49th District: Pridemore only barely broke 50% in 2004, but considering that he beat virtually the only Republican who can win the 49th in an even year, there's little reason to think this urban Vancouver district will turn him out unless Don Carlson seeks a rematch. He seemed a bit despondent over how eagerly Democrats were to reinstate the Eyman 1% property tax cap and even mentioned that he felt he was putting his reelection in danger by voting against it, yet methinks the senator was being too modest in his predictions. This district is safe Democratic at the House level and should soon be the same way for its Senate seat.


28 December 2007

Initial Legislative Outlook - Senate Democrats

A few early developments in next cycle's legislative elections (namely, the Fred Jarrett party switch), have led me to update the predictions spreadsheet for 2008. I've decided to focus only on state offices from now on and leaving federal and local predictions largely to others. The spreadsheet should now be up to date on both statewide and legislative races, so feel free to take a look and let me know where you think I'm off-base or, maybe, where I'm accurate!

Being that many legislative seats do not yet have challengers, these initial predictions are subject to change depending on the caliber of challenger facing each respective incumbent. This will be the first of many periodic updates, so nothing is truly set in stone.

Let's start with the Senate. While last cycle's seats strongly favoured the Democratic Party, this cycle should be more even-handed. None of the seats seem obvious for a partisan turnover, so I've started with a no change prediction, but there are a handful of seats on both sides that could feasibly switch given the right conditions. Below are what should be the targeted seats for the Democrats, with the Republicans soon to follow:

1. Senator Mike Carrell, 28th District: Carrell won a fairly tight open seat contest in 2004 over Helen McGovern, then deputy mayor of Lakewood. The House seat he abandoned for his Senate bid turned Democratic with the election of Tami Green, who was reelected last year as the district's other House seat was won by Democrat Troy Kelley. My judgment of this district is that it likes mavericks of both parties, as evidenced by choosing moderate Democrats Green and Kelley over basic conservatives and that Senator Carrell's predecessor, Shirley Winsley, won easy reelects regardless of what was happening elsewhere in the district. Being that Carrell is a fairly textbook Republican, I suspect he could be vulnerable to a maverick Democrat but otherwise will probably be favoured for reelection.

2. Senator Don Benton, 17th District: Benton has long served the 17th as its senator, but remains a somewhat controversial figure in one of the state's most balanced districts. He won reelection in 2004 by about 12% over a little known opponent, and could be vulnerable to a more qualified opponent.

3. Senator Joseph Zarelli, 18th District: While the 18th tilts fairly conservative, Zarelli beat back a spirited challenge by Democrat Dave Seabrook in his last election and could be similarly vulnerable against a good Democrat in what is looking like another Democratic-leaning cycle.

4. Senator Val Stevens, 39th District: Much as I'd adore seeing Senator Stevens rudely booted out of office, I fear it would take another Democratic sweep to do the deed. She seems perennially-endangered due to that she's off her right-wing rocker, but the fact is that the 39th is a solid GOP district and will probably retain her again by a modest margin.

5. Senator Cheryl Pflug, 5th District: While I don't think Senator Pflug is in real danger of losing reelection, I gave her the fifth spot over Senator McCaslin considering that the 5th is the last remaining Republican bastion in the suburban crescent. If all the talk of the Democratic wave pushing further into the GOP heartland rings true, Pflug should be endangered. That is, if the Democrats bother running anybody in the district this cycle.