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Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016

Top Two results show Washington Democrats are poised to win both houses of Legislature

You might not know it from read­ing mass media cov­er­age of Wash­ing­ton’s Top Two elec­tion, but the biggest sto­ry of tonight is that Democ­rats appear poised to win both hous­es of the Leg­is­la­ture this autumn, expand­ing their House major­i­ty and recap­tur­ing the Sen­ate major­i­ty with a com­pelling slate of candidates.

Some back­ground: At present, Democ­rats hold the slimmest of majori­ties in the Wash­ing­ton State House. They have fifty seats (the min­i­mum need­ed for a work­ing major­i­ty); the Repub­li­cans have forty-eight. In the Sen­ate, mean­while, Democ­rats are cur­rent­ly in the minor­i­ty, with twen­ty-three seats, and need to take at least two seats away from the Repub­li­cans get to a work­ing majority.

But if tonight’s ini­tial results are any indi­ca­tion, the par­ty is poised to accom­plish both objec­tives in the com­ing months. Let’s take a look at the matchups in the swing dis­tricts, where leg­isla­tive majori­ties are won and lost.

5th Dis­trict, King County

Sen­ate: One of this year’s mar­quee con­tests for Sen­ate will take place in the 5th, pit­ting incum­bent Demo­c­rat Mark Mul­let against Repub­li­can Chad Magen­danz. Both have served the dis­trict in the Leg­is­la­ture for years on oppo­site sides of the dome. Giv­en that Magen­danz has faced the vot­ers more recent­ly, and giv­en that the 5th has a long his­to­ry of sup­port­ing Repub­li­cans, you might think Magen­danz would have an advan­tage, espe­cial­ly in a low-turnout elec­tion like this one. But remark­ably, Mul­let is ahead of Magen­danz, which bodes well for Democrats.

  • Demo­c­ra­t­ic incum­bent Mark Mul­let: 50.15%
  • Repub­li­can chal­lenger Chad Magen­danz: 49.85%

House, Posi­tion 2: The seat Magen­danz vacat­ed to chal­lenge Mul­let is up for grabs, and Democ­rats will be look­ing to take it with Dar­cy Burn­er, who beat out Sno­qualmie May­or Matt Lar­son for sec­ond place. Togeth­er, Burn­er and Lar­son are win­ning around 53% of the vote, keep­ing Repub­li­can Paul Graves under fifty per­cent. If Burn­er can fire up the base and bring enough independent/biconceptual vot­ers along to sup­port her can­di­da­cy, she could become the first Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­date in state his­to­ry to win a House seat in the 5th this November.

  • Demo­c­ra­t­ic open seat con­tender Dar­cy Burn­er: 36.14%
  • Demo­c­ra­t­ic open seat con­tender Matt Lar­son (elim­i­nat­ed): 16.69%
  • Repub­li­can open seat con­tender Paul Graves: 47.17%

House, Posi­tion 1: The Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty’s can­di­date against Jay Rodne, Jason Ritchie, has a steep­er hill to climb this autumn. He’s got around 44% of the vote in ear­ly returns against Rodne. There is no third can­di­date to be elim­i­nat­ed in this elec­tion, so this is essen­tial­ly a straw poll pre­view of Novem­ber. Ritchie is the first Demo­c­ra­t­ic chal­lenger Rodne has had to get with­in ten points of him.

  • Repub­li­can incum­bent Jay Rodne: 55.79%
  • Demo­c­ra­t­ic chal­lenger Jason Ritchie: 44.21%

41st Dis­trict, King County

Sen­ate: It took a long time for Democ­rats to find a wor­thy chal­lenger to Steve Lit­zow, a smooth-talk­ing Repub­li­can nar­row­ly elect­ed in 2010. But in expe­ri­enced busi­ness exec­u­tive Lisa Well­man, they seem to have found the per­fect chal­lenger. In the span of a few weeks, Well­man has put togeth­er a strong cam­paign and ral­lied Democ­rats across the dis­trict. She’s run­ning neck and neck with Litzow.

  • Repub­li­can incum­bent Steve Lit­zow: 48.72%
  • Demo­c­ra­t­ic chal­lenger Lisa Well­man: 47.69%
  • Lib­er­tar­i­an chal­lenger Bryan Simon­son (elim­i­nat­ed): 3.59%

Democ­rats already con­trol both House seats in the 41st and ought not to have any trou­ble reelect­ing Judy Clib­born and Tana Senn.

30th Dis­trict, King Coun­ty (with a tiny slice of Pierce County)

House, Posi­tion 1: Democ­rats recruit­ed a stel­lar can­di­date to take on incum­bent Repub­li­can Lin­da Kochmar this year: Assis­tant Attor­ney Gen­er­al Mike Pel­lic­ciot­ti. Pel­lic­ciot­ti is show­ing every­one tonight why he’s a for­mi­da­ble can­di­date. In a straw poll matchup against Kochmar, with no third can­di­date on the bal­lot to be elim­i­nat­ed, Pel­lic­ciot­ti is winning.

  • Repub­li­can incum­bent Lin­da Kochmar: 48.23%
  • Demo­c­ra­t­ic chal­lenger Mike Pel­lic­ciot­ti: 51.77%

House Posi­tion 2: Pel­lic­ciot­ti’s fel­low chal­lenger Kris­tine Reeves is also ahead of the Repub­li­can incum­bent she’s run­ning against — Teri Hick­el. Hick­el was elect­ed to the House just last year, defeat­ing Car­ol Gre­go­ry, who was appoint­ed to fill a vacan­cy left by the death of Roger Free­man. Repub­li­cans were gid­dy a year ago when Hick­el knocked out Gre­go­ry, but they can’t be feel­ing gid­dy about this result.

  • Repub­li­can incum­bent Teri Hick­el: 49.77%
  • Demo­c­ra­t­ic chal­lenger Kris­tine Reeves: 50.23%

The 30th is a Demo­c­ra­t­ic dis­trict that Repub­li­cans have made inroads in due to com­pla­cent cam­paign­ing by Democ­rats. If these seats flip, as they appear like­ly to, House Democ­rats are pret­ty much assured of hav­ing a major­i­ty for 2017–2018.

17th Dis­trict, Clark County

Sen­ate: Democ­rats haven’t for­got­ten los­ing to Tim Eyman cohort Don Ben­ton (Don­ald Trump’s biggest in-state boost­er) four years ago, by the nar­row­est of mar­gins. Democ­rats forced Ben­ton into retire­ment when they recruit­ed Tim Prob­st to seek a rematch with Ben­ton for Sen­ate. Ben­ton’s seat­mate Lyn­da Wil­son, who serves in the state House, filed to take his place, but ear­ly returns show Prob­st ahead of Wil­son, which bodes very well for November.

  • Demo­c­ra­t­ic open seat con­tender Tim Prob­st: 50.67%
  • Repub­li­can open seat con­tender Lyn­da Wil­son: 49.33%

28th Dis­trict, Pierce County

Sen­ate: Democ­rats believe they have a shot at knock­ing out Repub­li­can incum­bent Steve O’Ban with Marisa Pelo­quin, a for­mer 82nd Air­borne Com­pa­ny Com­man­der. Pelo­quin is one of the par­ty’s top recruits of the cycle, and has inspired and impressed Demo­c­ra­t­ic activists by respond­ing aggres­sive­ly to Repub­li­can attacks against her. She’s not that far away from O’Ban in ear­ly results.

  • Repub­li­can incum­bent Steve O’Ban: 53.91%
  • Demo­c­ra­t­ic chal­lenger Marisa Pelo­quin: 46.09%

House, Posi­tion 1: Two Democ­rats filed to chal­lenge Repub­li­can incum­bent Dick Muri: Mari Leav­itt and Anne Set­suko Giroux. Leav­itt, as expect­ed, will go on to Novem­ber against Muri. Togeth­er with Giroux, she’s cur­rent­ly hold­ing Muri to 53% in the Top Two. This is a con­test Democ­rats may want to invest in to broad­en the play­ing field, to bor­row a sports metaphor.

  • Repub­li­can incum­bent Dick Muri: 53.25%
  • Demo­c­ra­t­ic chal­lenger Mari Leav­itt: 38.92%
  • Demo­c­ra­t­ic chal­lenger: 7.84%

House, Posi­tion 2: Democ­rats’ top defend this cycle is arguably Chris Kil­duff. Kil­duff was able to win two years ago in a tough cycle for Democ­rats, so the par­ty feels good about her reelec­tion prospects. And tonight, Kil­duff is show­ing she’s in good shape, with an out­right major­i­ty of the vote against three opponents.

  • Demo­c­ra­t­ic incum­bent Chris Kil­duff: 50.81%
  • Repub­li­can chal­lenger Paul Wage­mann: 27.46%
  • Repub­li­can chal­lenger Michael Win­kler: 18.61%
  • Lib­er­tar­i­an chal­lenger Bran­don Lyons: 3.12%

26th Dis­trict, Pierce and Kit­sap County

House, Posi­tion 1: One of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty’s biggest recruit­ing coups of the cycle came late, when the par­ty per­suad­ed Lar­ry Seaquist to aban­don his cam­paign for OSPI and instead run to return to the state House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. This deci­sion looks like it could pay off hand­some­ly, for Seaquist is run­ning almost even with Repub­li­can incum­bent Jesse Young, who’s seri­ous­ly under water.

  • Repub­li­can incum­bent Jesse Young: 37.74%
  • Demo­c­ra­t­ic chal­lenger Lar­ry Seaquist: 36.95%
  • Demo­c­ra­t­ic chal­lenger Alec Matias: 13.64%
  • Repub­li­can chal­lenger Bill Schei­dler: 11.67%

House, Posi­tion 2: Michelle Caldier, who defeat­ed Seaquist in the midterms, is seek­ing reelec­tion, and Democ­rats are tak­ing her on with Randy Spitzer. Caldier’s ini­tial num­bers are rea­son­ably strong and she’ll be tough to defeat, but Spitzer is a decent can­di­date who’s still got a shot, espe­cial­ly if he works hard to close the gap.

  • Repub­li­can incum­bent Michelle Caldier: 56.26%
  • Demo­c­ra­t­ic chal­lenger Randy Spitzer: 43.74%

Oth­er districts

Democ­rats are expect­ing to hold House and Sen­ate seats in the 1st, 19th, 24th, and 44th Dis­tricts despite retire­ments there.

In the 1st, for Sen­ate, Guy Palum­bo and Luis Moscoso are bat­tling for sec­ond place, split­ting the Demo­c­ra­t­ic vote (who­ev­er emerges vic­to­ri­ous will be favored to win in Novem­ber). For House, Posi­tion 1, Demo­c­rat Shel­ley Klo­ba has a com­fort­able lead over every­one else for sec­ond place. She’ll also be favored to win in November.

In the 19th, incum­bent Demo­c­rat JD Ros­set­ti is being hot­ly trailed by Demo­c­ra­t­ic chal­lenger Tere­sa Pur­cell for House, Posi­tion 1. Who­ev­er gets sec­ond place will square off against Repub­li­can Jim Walsh.

There’s less dra­ma in the 24th, the dis­trict that spans most of the Olympic Penin­su­la, where Steve Tharinger is crush­ing his Repub­li­can oppo­nent for Sen­ate, seek­ing to take over for Jim Har­grove. Demo­c­rat Mike Chap­man ought to be able to hold on to Tharinger’s House seat, keep­ing the dis­trict 100% Democratic.

The Sen­ate con­test in the 10th Dis­trict (Island County/North Sound) is worth keep­ing an eye on. Democ­rats Ang­ie Homo­la and Nick Petr­ish are col­lec­tive­ly hold­ing incum­bent Repub­li­can Bar­bara Bai­ley to just 51.44%. Homo­la, a for­mer Island Coun­ty Com­mis­sion­er, will be mov­ing on against Bai­ley. Can Democ­rats make this con­test com­pet­i­tive? We’ll soon find out.

Mean­while, in the 45th, incum­bent Demo­c­rat Roger Good­man has 62% of the vote in ear­ly returns. Repub­li­cans thought they had a strong chal­lenger for him in Sam­mamish City Coun­cilmem­ber Ramiro Valder­ra­ma, but Valder­ra­ma is far­ing even worse than Good­man’s past oppo­nents. Repub­li­cans can for­get about defeat­ing Good­man — he’s in strong posi­tion for reelection.

To recap: Democ­rats showed tonight they’re poised to pick up seats in both the House and Sen­ate while defend­ing what they have.

If Democ­rats can defend Mark Mul­let and get Lisa Well­man and Tim Prob­st elect­ed, they should have a bare major­i­ty in the Sen­ate going into 2017. The elec­torate in the com­ing gen­er­al elec­tion will be larg­er and more pro­gres­sive than the elec­torate in this Top Two elec­tion, which is bad news for Repub­li­cans. If Democ­rats cam­paign effec­tive­ly, they ought to be able to gain ground across the board.

Ten years ago, dur­ing the 2006, Democ­rats had a very good year, clob­ber­ing Repub­li­cans in leg­isla­tive races in swing dis­trict after swing dis­trict. They assem­bled super­ma­jori­ties in both hous­es. It’s unlike­ly Democ­rats can repeat that feat this year, but sol­id gains that lead to con­trol of both hous­es are very possible.

2006 was a ban­ner cycle, but the par­ty has been los­ing leg­isla­tive seats or tread­ing water every year since. The Sen­ate major­i­ty dis­ap­peared near­ly four years ago when Democ­rats In Name Only Rod­ney Tom and Tim Shel­don con­spired with Repub­li­cans to seize pow­er and take over the Sen­ate. The House major­i­ty, mean­while, was whit­tled down to one seat and is bare­ly intact.

Democ­rats see 2016 as the year to arrest and reverse this long, painful trend of leg­isla­tive loss­es. Tonight’s results show that the par­ty is with­in strik­ing dis­tance of win­ning work­ing majori­ties on both sides of the dome this fall. Much work will be required for the par­ty to be suc­cess­ful, but the stage has been set for victory.

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One Comment

  1. In the 41st, would­n’t Bryan’s sup­port­ers go to Litzow?

    # by Mike Barer :: August 3rd, 2016 at 1:21 PM
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