A Blue Wave for Washington State
A Blue Wave for Washington State

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.

About the author

Joel Connelly is a Northwest Progressive Institute contributor who has reported on multiple presidential campaigns and from many national political conventions. During his career at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, he interviewed Presidents Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and George H.W. Bush. He has covered Canada from Trudeau to Trudeau, written about the fiscal meltdown of the nuclear energy obsessed WPPSS consortium (pronounced "Whoops") and public lands battles dating back to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

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