Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Second Look At the Primary Election Results

I promised last week I would write about what happened with the Congressional and Legislative races in last week's primary. As always, please keep in mind this is just one guy's opinion.

1. WFSE-endorsed candidates did pretty well.

There were four WFSE-endorsed candidates who lost in the primary:

- Ray Harper (D), 2nd LD House, Pos. 1 [The primary winners are incumbent Jim McCune (R) and challenger JeanMarie Christenson (D)]
- Skip Novakovich (R), 8th LD House, Pos. 1 [The primary winners in this open seat are Brad Klippert (R) and Carol Moser (D)]
- Daryl Daugs (D), 35th LD House, Pos. 2 [The primary winners in this open seat are Fred Finn (D) and Randy Neatherlin (R)]
- Ken Henderson (D), 40th LD Senate [The primary winners in this open seat are Kevin Ranker (D) and Steve Van Luven (R)]

Our Legislative & Political Action Committee discussed these four races and voted to recommend an endorsement for Carol Moser in the 8th LD, and an endorsement for Fred Finn in the 35th LD. The Committee made no recommendation in the other two races. The Executive Board will consider any additional endorsements on Sept. 20th.

The 40th LD Senate contest is a little bit interesting because it was the only race in the state where our members voted for a dual endorsement: Democrat Ken Henderson and Republican Steve Van Luven. Henderson lost out to Ranker in a crowded Democratic primary, but Van Luven advanced easily as the only Republican on the ballot. As a result, Van Luven is now the only WFSE-endorsed candidate in this race.

2. The Reichert-Burner race is the only Congressional election to get excited about.

Out of the nine Congressional districts in the state, the 8th CD is the only one that's even close. While the other eight Congressional incumbents can rest easy, Congressman Dave Reichert (R) is once again facing a fierce challenge from Darcy Burner (D). In the primary, Reichert received 48.5% while Burner received 44.5% of the vote. A four-point margin, in a low-turnout primary, is very close and it seems likely this race will remain one of the top-targeted Congressional campaigns in the nation. [Note: WFSE has endorsed Burner.]

3. Rep. Jim Dunn was resoundingly defeated.

One of the most watched primaries in the state was in the 17th LD in the Vancouver area. Incumbent Rep. Jim Dunn has been hammered with scandal, and even the local GOP voted to endorse Dunn's primary opponent. Apparently, the voters in Clark County agreed, because Dunn received only 18.5% in the primary. In the general election, Democrat Tim Probst will face off against Republican Joseph James. And Dunn becomes the first incumbent to lose in 2008. [Note: WFSE has endorsed Probst in this race.]

4. Not much is happening in the State Senate.

There are 26 (out of 49) Senate seats on the ballot this year, and almost all of them are snoozers. The one big surprise was in the 28th District, where Republican incumbent Mike Carrell is facing a stronger than expected challenge from Democratic challenger Debi Srail. The current results have Carrell with 51.6% and Srail with 48.4%. Carrell has a reputation as a relentless doorbeller who puts up a zillion yard signs. Plus, he had a $153,000 to $45,000 fundraising advantage in the primary. Yet, still Srail came within 2%, making this the hottest Senate race in the state over the next two months.

Ironically, in a year where the Senate Republicans are desparately trying to narrow the Democrats' huge majority, the hottest race is one where the Republicans are on the defensive. The Republicans will need to protect Carrell and try to pull off an upset against incumbent Sen. Marilyn Rasmussen in the 2nd LD. Rasmussen received 50.5% of the vote against two Republicans. The Republicans had hoped to wage a challenge against Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen in the 10th LD, and for the open 40th LD seat, but appear to be facing longer odds in either instance. [Note: WFSE has endorsed Rasmussen, Haugen, and Van Luven. So far we've taken no position in the 28th LD Senate race.]

5. There will be a lot of noise, but in the end there isn't likely to be much change in the balance of power in the House.

State House members serve two-year terms, so all 98 House seats are on the ballot. The Democrats currently have a 63-35 majority in the state House, but the Republicans are still hopeful they can at least narrow that margin this year.

By my count, there are 51 solidly Democratic seats, and another seven seats that lean Democratic. I also count 23 solidly Republican seats, and another eight lean Republican seats. So we'll assume the D's start with 58 seats and the R's start with 31 seats, with another nine seats that could go either way.

The Democratic seats that Republicans have the best shot in are:

- 6th LD House, Pos. 1: Rep. Don Barlow (D) is challenged by Kevin Parker (R).
- 26th LD House, Pos. 1: In a seat that opened up when Democratic Rep. Pat Lantz retired, Jan Angel (R) outpolled Kim Abel (D) in the primary.
- 44th LD House, Pos. 2: Rep. Liz Loomis (D) is challenged by Mike Hope (R).
- 45th LD House, Pos. 1: Rep. Roger Goodman (D) is challenged by former Rep. Toby Nixon (R).
- 47th LD House, Pos. 1: Rep. Geoff Simpson (D) is challenged by Mark Hargrove (R).
[Note: In the above races, WFSE has endorsed Barlow, Abel, Loomis, Goodman and Simpson.]

The Republican seats that Democrats have the best shot in are:

- 5th LD House, Pos. 2: Rep. Glenn Anderson (R) is challenged by David Spring (D).
- 6th LD House, Pos. 2: Rep. John Ahern (R) is challenged by John Driscoll (D).
- 17th LD House, Pos. 1: With Rep. Jim Dunn's loss in the primary, this creates an open seat that should be hotly contested (see above diatribe).
- 25th LD House, Pos. 1: In a seat that opened up when Republican Rep. Joyce McDonald filed for Pierce County Council, Bruce Dammeier (R) outpolled Rob Cerqui (D) in the primary.
[Note: In these races, WFSE has endorsed Driscoll, Probst, and Cerqui. We've taken no position in the Anderson-Spring race.]

6. Wither the write-ins?

There were 27 Legislative seats on the ballot this year where nobody filed to run against the incumbent. However, in three of those instances there were coordinated write-in campaigns to put another candidate on the general election ballot.

A write-in candidate must receive 1% of the total votes cast in the primary, and must finish in the top two among all candidates. If those conditions are met, the write-in candidate appears on the general election ballot. The 1% threshold is a pretty low bar, but so far it's kept "Mickey Mouse" off the ballot. Some actual coordination is required to be a successful write-in candidate.

We won't know for sure until the county auditors certify their election results by Sept. 3rd, but it looks like write-in candidates may have qualified in the following races:

- 12th LD House, Pos. 2: Write-in Courtney Cox (R) is challenging Rep. Mike Armstrong (R).
- 28th LD House, Pos. 2: Write-in Denise McClusky (R) is challenging Rep. Tami Green (D).
- 49th LD Senate: Write-in Tom Langston (R) is challenging Sen. Craig Pridemore (D).
[Note: WFSE has endorsed Armstrong, Green and Pridemore.] [Another note: No, Courtney Cox is not the actress from "Friends."]

7. Intraparty squabbling, brought to you by the new "Top Two Primary."

The new "Top Two Primary" generated a lot of conversation, but didn't really have that big of an impact in the end. There were no statewide or congressional races where the top two vote-getters were from the same party, but there are eight legislative races where that is the case.

- 7th LD House, Pos. 1: Republicans Sue Lani Madsen and Shelly Short are vying for this open seat.
- 8th LD House, Pos. 2: Republican incumbent Larry Haler faces a challenge from Republican Rob Welch.
- 11th LD Senate: Democratic incumbent Margarita Prentice faces a challenge from Democrat Juan Martinez.
- 12th LD House, Pos. 2: Republican incumbent Mike Armstrong faces a challenge from Republican write-in Courtney Cox, assuming Cox qualifies.
- 22nd LD Senate: Democratic incumbent Karen Fraser faces a challenge from Democrat Erik Lee.
- 27th LD House, Pos. 1: Democratic incumbent Dennis Flannigan faces a challenge from Democrat Jessica Smeall.
- 36th LD House, Pos. 1: Democrats John Burbank and Reuven Carlyle are vying for this open seat.
- 46th LD House, Pos. 1: Democrats Gerry Pollet and Scott White are vying for this open seat.
[Note: WFSE has endorsed Haler, Prentice, Armstrong, Fraser, Flannigan, Burbank and White in the above races. We've taken no position on the 7th LD seat.]

Whew! This turned out to be a long article, but that's because there was a lot of ground to cover. If you actually read this entire post, send me an e-mail so I can personally congratulate you for your intestinal fortitude. Unless, of course, you're on the LPA Dept. staff, in which case you are expected to have all of this information committed to memory by Friday. -- Dennis


Reidrealestate said...

why would you endorse Fred Finn over Randy Neatherlin who almost received the endorsement during the original process? Fred was not even in the running.

tmcarthur said...

I read the whole thing! Do I get a cookie?

wfseLPA said...

To reidrealestate, we haven't made a decision on the Finn-Neatherlin race yet. The committee made a recommendation, but nothing is decided until our Executive Board votes on 9/20. It would be wrong for me to publicly divulge the committee's discussions, but I am happy to discuss this race with any interested WFSE member.

To tmcarthur, forget the cookie. I'm buying you a beer!

-- Dennis