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.

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.

Labels: ,

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.

Labels: , , ,

26 March 2008

Another party switch on the horizon?

Chris Mulick at the Tri-City Herald is reporting that Rep. Shirley Hankins [R-Richland] will be holding an exclusive event on Friday and is being secretive about what the reception is about. What is known is that Frank Chopp will attend the event and several key local Republicans are not, leading to some speculating she will announce a party switch.

Given her district and her age, I would be very surprised if Hankins switched parties. Despite recent ethical questions, she's built a great and lengthy career in the Republican Party and I think it's more likely she will announce her retirement and is inviting Chopp as a show of respect. The 8th district has not elected a Democrat since 1992 and has given Republicans huge majorities the last couple cycles, whether they were more moderate like Hankins and seatmate Larry Haler or the more rightist Senator Delvin. While she's broken with her party's majority on issues like abortion and gay rights she's pretty much smack-dab in the GOP mainstream on fiscal matters, and unless she were to do the Rodney Tom thing and completely abandon her fiscal principles in order to become a lock-step member of the Democratic establishment I truly do not think she jives ideologically with the Democratic Party.

Regardless of whether this is a party switch or a retirement, the sad reality is this will likely give her primary opponent and overall religious fanatic Brad Klippert a higher chance of victory. While I suspect the GOP would find a more electable and politically-reasonable candidate upon a Hankins retirement the thought of having Klippert in any level of government makes my skin crawl. I've seen reports that Richland School Board President Rick Jansons is also running, but his actual candidate filing is for the district's other seat.

Labels: , , ,

20 March 2008

Nixon tries for old seat

According to Chris Mulick, former Rep. Toby Nixon [R-Kirkland] will be running for the House seat he abandoned last cycle to run unsuccessfully for the 45th district Senate seat. He will likely face freshman Democrat Roger Goodman, who won the open seat contest in Nixon's absence.

While I think the race will at least initially lean Goodman's direction, I'm pleased to see Nixon wants back in the legislature. I thought he was a reasonable, libertarianish Republican who is the type the party needs to run on the Eastside now that they've lost virtually all of it to the Democrats.

Labels: , ,

18 March 2008

Put that in your pipe and smoke it!

Sam Reed said it right: "Wow!" The US Supreme Court ruled 7-2 against the state's political parties in overturning a lower court's decision that our Top Two primary is unconstitutional. This means that starting with this year's August primary, all candidates will be on a single primary ballot with the top two finshers advancing to the general election, regardless of party. For the record, Justices Scalia and Kennedy were the dissenters.

I'm absolutely floored by this decision. I had grown so used to courts siding with the parties over the people themselves, that I assumed SCOTUS would once again follow the lead of the lower courts. Happy, happy, happy!

Labels: ,

17 March 2008

Another retirement

Adding to the tally of legislative retirements is northwest WA Senator Harriet Spanel, stepping down after two decades in the legislature. Spanel has served in party leadership the past several terms as chair of the Democratic Caucus. Her sole attempt at higher office came in 1994 when she was the Democratic nominee for the 2nd Congressional district against Jack Metcalf, which she lost by ten points.

The seat she's vacating should be considered solidly Democratic and Republicans likely won't seriously target it. I imagine the Democratic leadership will give first crack to the district's representatives, Dave Quall and Jeff Morris, though I doubt Quall would look to move up at his age and after racking up 15 years of seniority in the House.

Update: Digging further in the news I see that Rep. Shay Schual-Berke is also retiring, leaving her solidly Democratic House seat vacant.

Labels: , ,

New SPI candidate?

The Tacoma News-Tribune reports today that Senator Jim Kastama [D-Puyallup] is considering a run for superintendent of public instruction rather than seeking a third term in the Senate. Washington Education Association officials have been trying to find a strong candidate against former WEA chief-turned-charter school & WASL advocate Terry Bergeson in her search for a fourth term. Kastama would provide the union a likable centrist WASL critic who represents a key suburban swing region, a nice improvement over their most recent candidate, former SPI Judith Billings. Billings, while eminently qualified as a former two-term SPI, failed to rally the anti-WASL crowd sufficiently in 2004.

I'm quite interested in seeing how this plays out. While my gut says that Bergeson should win again as she seems less vulnerable than in the lead-up to her last reelection campaign, I think Kastama is a quality challenger that could bring an upset.

Also running for the position are Richland Superintendent Rich Semler and gadfly candidates David Blomstrom and Don Hansler.

Labels: , ,

11 March 2008

Prediction spreadsheet update

Now available for download are newly-updated spreadsheets for this year's state elections. I shall try to update them more often now that virtually every day brings new candidacies.


Helen Sommers to retire

Rep. Helen Sommers [D-Seattle], having served Seattle in the House for the past 35 years, will not be seeking reelection this fall. Two Democrats had previously filed for the seat on the chance that Sommers would retire, and there will presumably be even more interest now that it has become official. The retirement also means a vacancy for chair of the key House Appropriations Committee.

I always respected Sommers as a pragmatic liberal, and while her pragmatism sometimes clashed with the left wing of her downtown district (take her 2004 primary challenge from Alice Woldt as an example), she should be remembered as one of the region's great legislators alongside John L. O'Brien, Joel Pritchard, and Ray Moore. Have a happy retirement, madame representative.

Labels: ,

10 March 2008

26th LD follow-up: Lantz to retire

Two months ago I made a post about the candidacy of Kitsap County Commissioner Jan Angel in the 26th district, and how I thought her candidacy was a good coup for the Republican Party. Things just got rosier there as the Spokesman Review's Richard Roesler reports that Rep. Pat Lantz will not run for reelection, leaving an open seat match in a major swing region. Stay tuned.

Labels: , ,