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.

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.



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