NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, November 9th, 2016

As darkness envelops American democracy, Washington State charts a progressive path

Cat­a­stro­phe. Dev­as­tat­ing. Tragedy.

Those are some of the words I’m see­ing being used in an attempt to describe the out­come of the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, which end­ed last night in a series of dark, dis­turb­ing defeats for Hillary Clin­ton and the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Party.

And yet, while vot­ers in Michi­gan, Wis­con­sin, and Penn­syl­va­nia were hand­ing the nation’s high­est and most impor­tant office to neo­fas­cist Don­ald Trump, vot­ers on the Left Coast were chart­ing a very dif­fer­ent path for their states.

In Wash­ing­ton, vot­ers elect­ed a Demo­c­ra­t­ic gov­er­nor, Demo­c­ra­t­ic exec­u­tive depart­ment, major­i­ty Demo­c­ra­t­ic con­gres­sion­al del­e­ga­tion, increased the state House­’s Demo­c­ra­t­ic major­i­ty, and brought state Sen­ate Democ­rats to with­in one vote of a major­i­ty — while approv­ing ini­tia­tives to increase the min­i­mum wage, insti­tute extreme risk pro­tec­tion orders, and call for an amend­ment to the Unit­ed States Con­sti­tu­tion to over­turn Cit­i­zens Unit­ed and get big mon­ey out of politics.

These vic­to­ries, it should be not­ed, came because vot­ers across the state — not just in King Coun­ty! — unit­ed to chart a pro­gres­sive path for Wash­ing­ton State.

King Coun­ty can and has been out­vot­ed through what has been called “the boa con­stric­tor strat­e­gy”, where swing and rur­al coun­ties align in oppo­si­tion to King Coun­ty’s posi­tion on a bal­lot mea­sure, or band togeth­er sup­port of an alter­na­tive can­di­date. In fact, that is hap­pen­ing right now in this elec­tion in some contests.

Not all of King Coun­ty’s favored posi­tions and can­di­dates are being embraced by vot­ers else­where. But most of them are. And that’s significant.

Democ­rats have suc­ceed­ed in elect­ing dis­tin­guished Iran­ian Amer­i­can Cyrus Habib as Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor, Hilary Franz as Com­mis­sion­er of Pub­lic Lands, and Pat McCarthy as Audi­tor, in addi­tion to retain­ing Jay Inslee as Gov­er­nor, Bob Fer­gu­son as Attor­ney Gen­er­al, and Mike Krei­dler as Insur­ance Commissioner.

The Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty only gave up one statewide posi­tion, Trea­sur­er, due to not hav­ing advanced any­one through the Top Two elec­tion. With a strong can­di­date, it stands a rea­son­ably good chance of win­ning that posi­tion back in 2020.

And mean­while, the three pro­gres­sive Supreme Court jus­tices who came under attack by Rod­ney Tom, Tim Eyman, Matt Man­weller, and their wealthy bene­fac­tors have all been returned to the bench by wide mar­gins by the voters.

Jus­tices Bar­bara Mad­sen, Mary Yu, and Char­lie Wig­gins are cruis­ing to reelec­tion, despite hav­ing endured months of attacks by the right wing.

In Mad­sen and Wig­gins’ case, the attacks were turned into expen­sive tele­vi­sion ad buys intend­ed to help their right wing oppo­nents knock them out.

But vot­ers saw through these attacks and chose to give all three new terms on the Court. That is a huge­ly reas­sur­ing out­come for pro­gres­sives and for democ­ra­cy. It shows that right wing megabucks can’t buy everything.

Final­ly, in the heart of the state, urban vot­ers said yes to a big, bold expan­sion of mass tran­sit, ensur­ing that cen­tral Puget Sound will get a rail spine link­ing togeth­er all of its major cities — with expand­ed bus and com­muter rail ser­vice to boot. Sound Tran­sit plans to begin work imme­di­ate­ly to bring the promised projects to fruition, so that more neigh­bor­hoods can be Linked in (pun intend­ed) as soon as possible.

In 2016, Wash­ing­ton vot­ers were giv­en the oppor­tu­ni­ty to vote for com­pelling down­bal­lot can­di­dates in addi­tion to pro­gres­sive caus­es. And they are tak­ing advan­tage. In the 41st Dis­trict, Repub­li­can Steve Lit­zow is being turned out of office, with a major­i­ty back­ing one of the par­ty’s top ris­ing stars, Lisa Wellman.

In the 30th Dis­trict, vot­ers are exchang­ing their two Repub­li­can oppo­nents for two high cal­iber Demo­c­ra­t­ic chal­lengers — Mike Pel­lic­ciot­ti and Kris­tine Reeves.

In the 5th Dis­trict, Jason Ritchie has a nar­row lead over dis­graced Repub­li­can Jay Rodne, whose big­ot­ed, xeno­pho­bic com­ments on refugees drew wide­spread con­dem­na­tion. Dar­cy Burn­er, mean­while, trails Repub­li­can Paul Graves by only a few votes, in what is one of the state’s clos­est leg­isla­tive contests.

Democ­rats will enter 2017 with a stronger work­ing major­i­ty in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives and will be in posi­tion to take con­trol of the Wash­ing­ton State Sen­ate before 2018 arrives, if they win next year’s spe­cial elec­tions in the 45th, 48th, and 37th. (The 48th and 37th are reli­ably blue districts.)

Gov­er­nor Inslee, mean­while, has won reelec­tion with a size­able man­date to gov­ern the state in accor­dance with pro­gres­sive prin­ci­ples and pol­i­cy directions.

The Pacif­ic time­zone has cho­sen a very dif­fer­ent path than that of the rest of the coun­try, save for New Eng­land, the South­west, and the mid-Atlantic states, which also backed Hillary Clin­ton for the presidency.

The Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty may be in bad shape fed­er­al­ly and in oth­er states, but on the Left Coast, it is find­ing suc­cess cham­pi­oning pro­gres­sive ideas and candidates.

That’s a les­son the mem­bers of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee and oth­er par­ty lead­ers should take to heart. The par­ty bad­ly needs a new chair and lead­er­ship team who can effec­tive­ly chal­lenge Don­ald Trump and rebuild after a bad elec­tion cycle.

Adjacent posts

  • Enjoyed what you just read? Make a donation

    Thank you for read­ing The Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate, the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute’s jour­nal of world, nation­al, and local politics.

    Found­ed in March of 2004, The Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate has been help­ing peo­ple through­out the Pacif­ic North­west and beyond make sense of cur­rent events with rig­or­ous analy­sis and thought-pro­vok­ing com­men­tary for more than fif­teen years. The Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate is fund­ed by read­ers like you and trust­ed spon­sors. We don’t run ads or pub­lish con­tent in exchange for money.

    Help us keep The Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate edi­to­ri­al­ly inde­pen­dent and freely avail­able to all by becom­ing a mem­ber of the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute today. Or make a dona­tion to sus­tain our essen­tial research and advo­ca­cy journalism.

    Your con­tri­bu­tion will allow us to con­tin­ue bring­ing you fea­tures like Last Week In Con­gress, live cov­er­age of events like Net­roots Nation or the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Con­ven­tion, and reviews of books and doc­u­men­tary films.

    Become an NPI mem­ber Make a one-time donation


  1. Trump is a nar­cis­sis­tic pig.

    # by Gretchen Sand :: November 9th, 2016 at 1:34 PM
  2. That’s an insult to pigs!

    # by Mike Barer :: November 30th, 2016 at 6:22 AM
  • NPI’s essential research and advocacy is sponsored by: