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 October 2008

House elections predictions, part 1

Now for the House. This is where I expect there to be some shifts, though they should be minimal. Fact is, Democrats have virtually maxed-out their pickup opportunities by now that they can only target a couple seats and will have to play defense on the rest. Fortunately for them, the GOP is still not doing a very good job at targeting legislative seats, though they do have several solid candidates going this cycle. I'm predicting both sides pick up two seats, resulting in no change in membership. It's worth noting, though, that one of those Democratic pickups is Fred Jarrett's seat, which is now Democratic but I count as a pickup as it went Republican last cycle. Because of this, the seat distribution ought to be 62 Democratic vs. 36 Republican.

Democratic Targets:
1. 41st District - seat gain
The aforementioned Jarrett seat has been Democratic since he switched parties mid-term. I cast no ill judgment on Jarrett for that and hope he wins the district's Senate seat, but I am definitely hoping the GOP can hold on to his old House seat agaisnt all odds. Their candidate is Steve Litzow, a socially centre-left Mercer Island city councilman, the exact kind of candidate that used to clean up huge numbers in the 41st before it went so knee-jerk Democratic. I see Litzow as an ideological soulmate of Jarrett, the type of Republican that 41st voters need not be fearful they will vote to repeal gay rights legislation nor to jack up restrictions on abortion rights. Opposing Litzow is Democrat Marcie Maxwell, a Renton School Board member. No disrespect to Maxwell, but I see her as not much more than an acceptable, generic Democrat. Litzow is the interesting candidate in the race, but he's still fighting uphill in this district. Maxwell won the primary count by about 53-47, and I'm expecting a similar general election finish.

Maxwell [D] 54
Litzow [R] 46

2. 8th District - seat gain
This one is my upset special. The 8th has been monolithically-Republican since the 1994 elections, but they're making things hard on themselves here this cycle. Their candidate is Brad Klippert, a man anyone who follows elections in this state should know is an ultra right-wing fundamentalist nutjob from his two failed US Senate runs. Klippert should be naught but a fringe candidate with no chance but in a solid GOP district he actually stands a good chance of winning in spite of his out-of-mainstream social views. Klippert emerged from the primary with a paltry 19% in a five man race with four Republican candidates. A crowded primary is perfect for a candidate like him, where all you need to do is get your nutty base out and it's enough to earn a runoff spot. I see the 8th district (greater Richland and Kennewick area) as much more pocketbook Republicans than Leviticus Republicans, and have faith that enough of them will see Klippert for what he is instead of just checking off every candidate with an R. Democrats are running Carol Moser, a member of the state Transportation Commission and formerly a city councilmember in Richland. She took 38% in the primary but it's going to be damn difficult to get the rest of the way. Here's hoping.

Moser [D] 51
Klippert [R] 49

3. 5th District #2
One of the surprises on primary night for me was how close this district was, where Democrat David Spring, an educator, finished a mere two points behind incumbent Glenn Anderson. Anderson has been in office since first being elected in 2000, typically winning by ten points when Democrats bother to offer any opponent at all. I like to think he was as surprised as I was at Spring's performance. Long story short, this is Dino Rossi's home district and as a result of that I think GOP turnout will be strong. Spring puts in a valiant effort but comes up a little short in the end.

Anderson [R] 52
Spring [D] 48

4. 6th District
I suppose the 6th would have been similarly surprising as the 5th was on primary night were this not such a long time coming. I've made several posts on this weblog in the past about John Ahern's nuttiness, and it's high time he saw a good challenger in his suburban Spokane district. Ahern consistently rates among the most conservative members of the legislature, despite that the 6th has long been more of a moderate Republican district, even before it finally elected a Democrat in 2006. Opposing Ahern is John Driscoll, director of a universal health care advocacy group. Sounds a little liberal for Spokane, but he came fairly close in the primary with his 48% finish. Ahern probably wins, and I probably wouldn't care much for Driscoll if he were to pull off an upset, but this is one where I wouldn't mind being wrong.

Ahern [R] 53
Driscoll [D] 47

5. 39th District #1
Democrats came surprisingly close here in 2006, actually leading at times on election night, only to lose by eight points when absentees were tallied. Incumbent GOPer Dan Kristiansen is awfully conservative, but lacks the nastiness embodied by Val Stevens, so I tend to think he's pretty secure in that seat. He faces a rematch from 2006 in Scott Olson, but I'm thinking it'll be a little wider gap now that Kristiansen is more prepared.

Kristiansen [R] 56
Olson [D] 44

6. 31st District
Republican incumbent Dan Roach faces Ron Weigelt, a Buckley city councilman, in this race. Roach ran pretty easily ahead of Weigelt in the primary and I don't see much reason to think he's going to lose despite the close call he had in 2006. I'm still peeved that Chris Hurst targeted the district's moderate for his 2006 victory rather than taking out Roach instead. Sigh.

Roach [R] 57
Weigelt [D] 43

7. 39th District #2
Similar story to Kristiansen's here. Kirk Pearson is a staunchly conservative Republican in a Republican district that isn't likely to throw him out, but there's still a solid Democratic base of about 40% or so in the district. His opponent is David Personius, whom he ran far ahead of in the primary. A third candidate's 11% is up for grabs, but when Pearson took 57%, things don't look very good for the 39th district Democrats.

Pearson [R] 58
Personius [D] 42

8. 30th District
As far as I can see, Democrats are content with having Skip Priest in the legislature. He's a moderate, green-friendly, bipartisan guy who has a record of willingness to work with Democrats as he would with Republicans. The 30th is a Democratic-leaning swing district but Priest has enough personal votes that I don't ever think he's terribly endangered, at least ever since he doubled his previous margin of victory in 2006 while Republicans all across the suburban crescent were falling. His opponent is Carol Gregory, a retired educator.

Priest [R] 58
Gregory [D] 42

9. 42nd District
A similar story electorally to Priest's, Doug Ericksen seems to have achieved that level of a personal vote that is so cherished for a legislator in a district that might not always match up so well with their beliefs. I'd classify the 42nd as somewhere between moderate Republican and totally swing, but Ericksen has locked it up pretty well. Not to be confused with Priest in temperament, Ericksen is an unabashed partisan who I expect to be caucus leader down the road. His opponent this election is Mark Flanders, who Ericksen defeated by just shy of 20 points in the primary. After winning reelection in 2006 by ten points, he should be in for an easier ride.

Ericksen [R] 59
Flanders [D] 41

10. 5th District #1
Unlike seatmate Glenn Anderson, Jay Rodne had no such scare on primary night from his little-known Democratic opponent, tradesman Jon Viebrock. I expect this to be the strongest finish of 5th district Republicans because of Rodne's moderate perception amongst voters.

Rodne [R] 60
Viebrock [D] 40

Update: I made a fairly major oversight when posting this not to include the open 25th district seat being vacated by Joyce McDonald. It should have been ranked 3rd on the list, with Republican candidate Bruce Dammeier defeating Democrat Rob Cerqui 51-49. Dammeier won the primary with slightly over 50% and has been one of the best fundraisers for legislative candidates this cycle, and that's why I give him the edge.



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