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 October 2008

House elections predictions, part 2

Now for the Republican targets. The GOP has several more opportunities than Democrats this year due to the aforementioned lack of fertile ground that comes with having supermajorities. If memory serves me right, this would be the first cycle since 2002 that legislative Republicans picked up a Democratic-held seat, but considering where they're at it's not a whole lot to build on. At least in one circumstance it will give the GOP a surburban Puget Sound seat back in their column, but it's going to take a lot of work and big Democratic blunders for them to have a truly "good" election. At least if Gregoire is able to eke out a narrow win she might actually have to take responsibility for this shitty budget situation now that she won't be able to blame it on a Republican president. But let's save that for later and focus on these GOP targets.

Republican Targets:
1. 26th District - seat gain
When Pat Lantz announced her retirement and outgoing Kitsap County Commissioner Jan Angel stepped into the race, I immediately speculated it as a GOP gain. She drew a quality challenger in ex-Port Orchard Mayor Kim Abel, but won the primary by a comfortable eight points. It's safe to say that both candidates have name recognition but it appears that Angel's is doing more for her, as she won both the Kitsap and Pierce County parts of the district by about the same margin. This might tighten up a little but I have a hard time seeing the lead change hands so dramatically.

Angel [R] 53
Abel [D] 47

2. 6th District - seat gain
Just as the GOP-held seat in the 6th is targeted by Democrats the opposite is true for freshman Rep. Don Barlow. Barlow narrowly got into the legislature as Chris Marr was easily winning the district's Senate seat in 2006, but faces a strong challenge in Republican businessman Kevin Parker. Barlow faced two Republicans in the primary and drew 45% of the vote, and while the matchup between Parker and Mel Lindauer was a little nasty at times I'd suspect Parker would be the easy beneficiary of those Lindauer voters. This isn't a situation like what's going on in the 8th where the most unsavoury primary candidate made the runoff and is likely to result in a decent amount of crossovers. Although it's currently 2D-1R the 6th is still fundamentally a Republican district and Barlow isn't likely to make it on his own.

Parker [R] 52
Barlow [D] 48

3. 45th District
I think this may well be the closest race of the cycle. Incumbent Democrat Roger Goodman won the primary by a couple hundred votes over former Rep. Toby Nixon, who vacated the seat to run unsuccessfully for the district's Senate seat in 2006. Nixon is a more tolerant and libertarian Republican and has a sizable personal vote, while Goodman hasn't really done much to make a name for himself in his first term. Still, this is the suddenly Democratic-leaning Eastside in a year where Barack Obama will be sweeping through the region at the top of the ticket. I think Nixon puts in a valiant effort only to come up a little short. I don't believe in going into decimals except for extreme circumstances (governor's race, anyone?), but I wouldn't be surprised to see this end up within a single point.

Goodman [D] 51
Nixon [R] 49

4. 44th District #2
Another tight one on primary night, the 44th race features appointed Rep. Liz Loomis against GOP challenger Mike Hope. Hope has run in the district a lot and done better than comparable Republicans there, but this is the first time he really seems to be on the cusp of a victory. He took a little over 49% in the primary, but I can't quite see him overturning the recent past in the 44th and edging out Loomis here. The 44th lost its only Republican member when Senator Dave Schmidt lost reelection in 2006, and the last time another Republican won there was 1998. This probably isn't the year to revert that trend.

Loomis [D] 52
Hope [R] 48

5. 47th District
This one is a little unique. It probably wouldn't be on the map if not for Geoff Simpson's domestic dispute charges, and while they were dropped, it probably did enough damage that he's not going to have another easy election in his career. The 47th has preferred the Democratic label like all the other suburban crescent districts as of late, but it isn't a particularly liberal district still and Simpson has always had a voting record as if he were representing Wallingford rather than Kent. GOP candidate Mark Hargrove won the primary with close to 47% while Simpson and fellow Democrat Leslie Kae Hamada split the rest. That isn't a whole lot for Hargrove to make up but I still have a hard time seeing him winning even with all of Simpson's problems. Democrats are clearly worried about this seat as they recently pulled a ridiculous stunt in accusing Hargrove of being soft on sex offenders because one donated to his campaign. I don't think they're doing Simpson any favours.

Simpson [D] 52
Hargrove [R] 48

6. 35th District
With Bill Eickmeyer's retirement the GOP has a rare opportunity for a pickup in a solidly-Democratic western Washington district. The primary pitted two Democrats against two Republicans, with the combined Democratic vote at 51%. The two who emerged from the pack are Fred Finn, Eickmeyer's handpicked would-be successor, and GOP challenger Randy Neatherlin, who ran for the seat in 2006 and previously sought a Mason County Commission seat. While Eickmeyer beat Neatherlin by an easy 20 points in 2006 this looks to be quite a bit closer, and Neatherlin is likely to benefit from Dino Rossi's presence on the ballot as Mason is a key swing county in which he is popular. That said, this is a fundamentally Democratic district and if Republicans had an easy time winning here Tim Sheldon would have probably switched long ago.

Finn [D] 53
Neatherlin [R] 47

7. 31st District
As we all know, 2006 was a year where Democrats swept the suburbs. They also infiltrated the exurb/rural 31st when Chris Hurst returned to the House by defeating Jan Shabro, the sole sane member of the district's GOP delegation. Hurst is now defending that seat against Sharon Hanek, who narrowly beat out fellow Republican Josh Hulburt for the second spot in the general election runoff. Hurst took 57% in the primary and if he could beat an entrenched incumbent attractive to crossover voters he should have similar fortunes in the runoff.

Hurst [D] 55
Hanek [R] 45

8. 28th District #1
Troy Kelley surprised a few people by winning this seat in 2006 after Gigi Talcott retired, and has since been by far the most independent-minded Democrat in the House in my opinion. He's been everything I look for in a moderate Democrat: willing to break ranks to support business interests and fiscal responsibility but doesn't waffle when it comes to social issues. Seatmate Tami Green has cast several anti-gay votes in her career, seemingly in hopes of appearing moderate and acceptable to GOP voters, but Kelley has stood up for basic fairness and staked a more conservative streak on issues that matter in the district, not trying to make personal gains on the backs of a minority group. Easily my favourite new face in the legislature, and I hope to see him go far. Swing voters seem to agree as he took 57% in the primary, giving him a 15-point margin of victory over Dave Dooley. This is quite a gain considering he only won by three points for his first term.

Kelley [D] 56
Dooley [R] 44

9. 28th District #2
Speaking of Tami Green, she was looking to have an easy ride for a third term this year when nobody filed against her, but will have to face Republican Denise McCluskey after the latter took a solid 5% of the primary vote via write-ins. Green should still have a solid advantage as an incumbent against a late-starting opponent, though. The 28th has gone from a GOP-leaner to something between a straight-up swing district and a slightly Democratic-leaner in two cycles, and with both Democratic reps looking to have an easier time this cycle than GOP Senator Carrell the district appears to continue to move in that direction. It's hard to gauge how McCluskey will do since she wasn't on the primary ballot, but I expect Green should have about as easy a time winning as her seatmate but with a little extra breathing room due to longer incumbency and McCluskey's late start.

Green [D] 57
McCluskey [R] 43

10. 44th District #1
It used to be that Hans Dunshee was a perennial target as he's an unabashed liberal in what was once a swing district, but now that the region has tilted Democratic he's enjoyed increasingly large margins of victory. He has an added bonus this cycle with Republicans focusing on appointed Rep. Loomis in the other seat rather than his own. Facing him is Larry Countryman, formerly of the Snohomish City Council. Dunshee won the primary by about 15 points, an increase over his 11-point victory over Mike Hope in 2006.

Dunshee [D] 57
Countryman [R] 43



At 7:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the analysis. I was really into your predictions 4 yrs ago and just found the page again. You're probably one of the only people that pay close attention to the state races. Thanks!

At 2:06 PM, Anonymous Jacob said...

I will be the first to call the 44th position 2 race for Mike Hope!

At 6:32 PM, Blogger TMW said...

Yes, state races (executive and legislative) are my favourite and definitely the ones I look forward to most. Thanks for reading, Anon.

As for Hope, he has an awful lot working against him to win. Were this a GOP favoured year or even an even year I'd probably predict him.


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