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.

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.



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