Suspense and savage political warfare over the outcome of the 2020 presidential race may take days or even weeks, but a blue wave crashed ashore in this Washington minutes after the 8 PM deadline for returning ballots.
Our days as a “purple” state are clearly in the past.
Incumbent Governor Jay Inslee was taking sixty percent of the vote in his bid for a third term, with challenger Loren Culp held under forty percent in returns released Tuesday night. The Democrats’ thirty-six-year grip on the governor’s office has been extended for four more years.
The victories of Inslee and Joe Biden were sustained by 500,000 vote margins in populous King County, but progressives are winning all over the place.
Progressive Democratic candidates are ahead in three much-watched State Senate races. Republican-held House seats are in jeopardy from Whatcom County to Clark County, and Island County in between.
Only one Democrat in the Legislature’s upper chamber – State Senator Dean Takko in the 19th District of Southwest Washington – is on the ropes.
The religious right and Republicans forced a referendum on the Legislature’s sex education plan, only to have nearly sixty percent of voters approving it.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal came storming back in the general election, after a weak Top Two election showing.
The political/religious right has taken its cause to the voters three times in the past eleven years. It forced a 2009 vote on domestic partnerships. It took the Legislature’s 2012 approval of marriage equality to the voters. It resisted sex education in the Legislature this year, making it a fall campaign issue.
The result? Three ringing rejections.
One of the two Republicans left in statewide office, State Treasurer Duane Davidson, has likely been unseated by Democratic State Representative Mike Pelicciotti. The other, Secretary of State Kim Wyman, is hanging on with 51.4% percent of the vote to an office Republicans have held since 1964.
The voters are endorsing two of Governor Inslee’s appointees to the State Supreme Court, including the high court’s first Native American justice, Raquel Montoya-Lewis, and the first black female justice, G. Helen Whitener.
Years of Tim Eyman tantrums, delivered whenever the Supremes overturn one of his badly written initiatives, have not shaken support for the nation’s most diverse Supreme Court, which is mostly women (seven of nine justices are female).
Are we different from the rest of the country?
Differences are undeniable.
Much of Middle America remains politically and socially conservative, which is why many of its talented young people head West. The “Left Coast” drives the nation’s technology economy. It is home to the country’s most diverse populations. The West’s largest employers have embraced social tolerance. Washington, Oregon and California have formed a legal/political bulwark against Trumpism.
It is so from the Mexican border to the 49th Parallel. Early results from this election are sustaining the new blue coloration of California’s Orange County, once a seedbed of American conservatism. Oregon’s U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio was allegedly in political trouble. He’s won in a walk, along with Senator Jeff Merkley.
Once a home to partially progressive Republicans, symbolized by the late Senator Mark Hatfield, Oregon has now elected Democratic governors for thirty-four years.
Washington, D.C., has experienced the deadlock of democracy.
Washington State will see a more progressive Legislature convene in January. Likely gone is State Senator Steve O’Ban of the 28th District in Pierce County, a social conservative who has specialized in baiting Sound Transit.
The state’s “blue-green” coalition of labor and environmentalists drew a bead on 5tatte Senator Mark Mullet, a pro-business Democrat who posed a major obstacle to progressive tax reform and climate legislation. He is trailing emergency room nurse Ingrid Anderson by nearly 1,000 votes.
Governor Inslee has sought to play on a larger stage, with his short-lived run for the Democratic presidential nomination. Instead, the 2020 election has offered opportunity at home, to make Washington a laboratory and model.
The Governor seems poised to at last achieve his climate initiatives.
He has hesitated in the past, but now has the opportunity for pushing to reform the most unjust tax system in the nation, including the levying of a capital gains tax, which enjoys robust statewide support according to NPI’s research.
The “Left Coast” has like-minded leaders, from California Governor Gavin Newsom to British Columbia Premier John Horgan, reelected last month by voters in Canada’s “province on the Pacific.” They can cooperate toward such goals as bringing high-speed rail to the Interstate 5 corridor.
Seattle, Portland and San Francisco were demonized by Trump and his media lackeys on Fox, long before racial justice demonstrators hit the streets.
Why? Part of the reason is that we’ve resisted right-wing takeovers of state courts, legislatures and Governor’s offices elsewhere in the country.
We’ve expanded opportunities to vote.
We’ve rejected nativism and celebrated what America has come to look like.
Let us continue down this path.