Last night’s early election results in the 5th Legislative District, if they hold, should put an end to the endless pontificating that despite electing three Democratic legislators in 2018, the 5th is a purple district… and that the only way Democrats can win there is by running candidates who oppose progressive ideas.
The early general election results, which are totally consistent with the August Top Two election results, tell a different story. The district is now 60%-68% blue, comparable with safe Democratic districts to the west.
Consider the race for State House, Position #1. In this race pitting a Democrat against a Republican, Bill Ramos leads 63% to 37%.
That’s a massive margin, especially considering that only four years ago, Republicans won both of the district’s State House races.
In the race for State House, Position #2, Lisa Callan is unopposed and getting 90% of the vote against 10% write-ins, which are presumptively coming from Republican voters who found Lisa unpalatable. A more realistic analysis includes blank ballots. Taking those into account, Lisa gets 68%.
The Senate race is more difficult to analyze. In this all-Democratic race, Ingrid Anderson leads Mark Mullet 50% to 48%. As in Lisa Callan’s one-sided race, we need to consider the blank ballots. That analysis shows Ingrid leading 44% to 43% with 13% of the voters sitting this race out. Obviously, many Republicans chose to vote in this race, since the district is at least 32% — 35% Republican.
What’s interesting in the Senate race is that Anderson ran as an unapologetic progressive Democrat, while Mullet actively courted Republican voters.
Mark is definitely still in this, and with many votes still yet to be counted, he may ultimately win (though Anderson is in the better position).
But if he does win, it will be a difficult strategy to repeat.
As a two term incumbent, his name recognition should have carried him to an easy victory. But having already violated the number one rule in politics (don’t alienate your base), he swung hard in the other direction.
Mullet ran on his opposition to progressive tax reform, including a capital gains tax on the wealthy, his record of channeling dollars into the district, especially for highway projects, and his enthusiasm for working closely with Republicans.
He clearly misread his district.
By my calculations, Anderson received well over two-thirds of the Democratic votes. While Mullet did succeed in wooing a significant number of Republicans, it wasn’t quite enough to secure first place in the initial returns.
The 5th is a solidly blue slice of King County now, with a rapidly increasing number of voters who desire strong progressive representation.
If Anderson wins, the district will get a senator who will fit in nicely with the Eastside’s diversifying legislative delegation. There is currently no nurse in the Senate Democratic caucus; Anderson would offer a valuable perspective as the Legislature works to confront the coronavirus pandemic.
A victory for Anderson would also cement the transformation of the Eastside’s Senate delegation. As of the end of 2014, it was all men with views ranging from pretty conservative to partially progressive: Andy Hill, Steve Litzow, Rodney Tom, and Mullet. Now, it could be all women: Manka Dhingra, Lisa Wellman, Patty Kuderer, and Anderson. That’s quite the change in just six years.