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Slade Gorton, Tim Ceis unveil proposed congressional district map for 2012-2021

At last, we have a map!

During a short meeting of Washington’s four member Redistricting Commission on the Capitol Campus this morning, former U.S. Senator Slade Gorton and former Seattle deputy mayor Tim Ceis – who had been tasked with drawing new congressional district boundaries on behalf of the four-member commission – unveiled the proposal they’ve been working on for the first time.

I think it’s safe to say that it is not what most people were expecting.
Proposed Congressional District Map for 2012-2021

We’ve been going over the proposal in some detail, and it is very striking. Here is a profile and partisan breakdown for each district.

The new WA-01 is a swing district, not safe for either party. It includes the northern Eastside in King County (anchored by Kirkland and Redmond), rural Snohomish County towns like Monroe, Sultan, and Granite Falls, and rural Skagit and Whatcom counties as well. Ceis and Gorton claimed during their presentation that it is possibly the most evenly divided district in the United States.

It looks like most of the candidates who have been planning to run in the proposed WA-01 will be able to run there without having to move.

Declared candidates who are in the new WA-01:

  • Roger Goodman (Kirkland)
  • Darcy Burner (Ames Lake/Carnation)
  • Laura Ruderman (Kirkland)
  • Steve Hobbs (Lake Stevens)
  • Darshan Rauniyar (Bothell)

Declared candidates who are not in the new WA-01:

  • Marko Liias (Lives in Edmonds, which is in the proposed WA-07)

Republicans will likely field John Koster as their candidate. Koster, a right wing Snohomish County commissioner, has run for Congress before. He has run against Rick Larsen twice, most recently in 2010, so he has strong name recognition across a large swath of the district. However, he is unknown in King County.

In addition, the Points communities (Medina/Clyde Hill/Hunts Point/Yarrow Point) are in the new WA-01, so Suzan DelBene would be able to run in that district as well. Suzan is presently not a declared congressional candidate.

The new WA-02 leans Democratic. It could well be called “the saltwater district”. It includes Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace, and Brier (but not Mill Creek or Bothell, which are in the proposed WA-01… or Edmonds, which joins WA-07) as well as Everett, Mukilteo, Marysville, Whidbey and Camano Islands, the San Juan Islands,  Stanwood, and Bellingham. It does not touch the Canadian border by land. Rick Larsen should be able to hold the new WA-02 with ease.

The new WA-03 is more friendly to Republicans. It is still a southwest Washington district, but it no longer includes urban Thurston County. Other than that change, it is mostly the same as it was before. Vancouver and Clark County will now be the undisputed population center of WA-03. We would classify it as “lean Republican”, not safe Republican. A strong Democratic candidate might be able to take WA-03. But it isn’t a district that a lazy Democratic Party can win.

The new WA-04 remains a safe Republican district. It stretches from the Canadian border to the Oregon border, covering Okanogan, Douglas, Grant, Adams, Franklin, Benton, and Yakima counties. The two major urban areas in the district are Yakima and the Tri-Cities. It no longer includes Lake Chelan, Ellensburg, or Wenatchee (which are in WA-08, see below). We don’t foresee Doc Hastings having much of a problem holding this district.

The new WA-05 likewise remains a safe Republican district. It covers Asotin, Garfield, Columbia, Whitman, Spokane, Lincoln, Ferry, Stevens, and Pend Oreille counties, and part of Walla Walla County, including the City of Walla Walla. Cathy McMorris Rodgers should be easily able to hold the new WA-05.

The new WA-06 isn’t much different than the old WA-06; it leans Democratic. It is comprised mostly of the Olympic Peninsula, and takes in all of Kitsap County (presently, part of Kitsap is in WA-01). Norm Dicks’ 2012 reelection bid will likely be pretty smooth sailing in this new WA-06.

The new WA-07 is safe Democratic, centered on Seattle, like the old WA-07. But it now stretches into Snohomish County, taking in Edmonds, Woodway, and Shoreline. At its southern end, it includes Burien and Normandy Park. Nevertheless, it remains urban and liberal. Jim McDermott should be able to hold it.

The new WA-08 is a district that leans Republican. It is more rural than urban or suburban, stretching across the Cascade Mountains to include Kittitas and Chelan counties. There are only a few King County cities in the new WA-08; they include Sammamish, Issaquah, Covington, Maple Valley, Black Diamond, Snoqualmie, and North Bend, along with Algona and part of Kent. Major cities and towns in the eastern part of the district are Cle Elum, Ellensburg, Wenatchee, Leavenworth, Cashmere, and Chelan.

The new WA-09 is a a safe Democratic district, and the state’s first majority/minority district. It includes Seattle’s Rainier Valley, Renton, Tukwila, SeaTac, Des Moines, Kent, Federal Way, and the northern neighborhoods of Tacoma. It also includes Newcastle, Mercer Island, and Bellevue. Adam Smith will have to get to know many new constituents, but he should be easily able to hold this district, which is entirely urban and suburban.

Last, but not least, the new WA-10 is a district that leans Democratic. It is centered on Olympia, and also includes Shelton, Tumwater, Lacey, DuPont, Steilacoom, University Place, and Lakewood. Would-be U.S. Representative Denny Heck has already indicated that he plans to waste no time in launching a campaign in WA-10, but he may have some Democratic competition.

So, in summary, here is what we think the breakdown is:

  • There are two safe Democratic districts (WA-07, WA-09),
  • There are two safe Republican districts (WA-04, WA-05)
  • There are two districts that lean Republican (WA-08, WA-03)
  • There are three districts that lean Democratic (WA-02, WA-06, WA-10),
  • There is one district that is up for grabs (WA-01).

Assuming Democrats can keep the five blue-tinged districts and take the evenly-divided WA-01, Democrats would have six of the state’s ten House districts. If Democrats could manage to capture one of the districts that leans Republican, they’d have seven of ten, which is probably the best the party can reasonably expect to do in 2012. (WA-04 and WA-05 are unlikely to elect a Democrat, but WA-03 and WA-08 might). If Democrats ran the tables, they’d have eight seats.

One Comment

  1. Ivan Weiss
    Posted December 30th, 2011 at 6:56 AM | Permalink

    “The new WA-07 is safe Democratic, centered on Seattle, like the old WA-07. But it now stretches into Snohomish County, taking in Edmonds, Woodway, and Shoreline.”

    Shoreline is in King County.

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