Patty Murray speaking at her 2019 Golden Tennis Shoe Awards luncheon
United States Senator Patty Murray (D-Washington) addresses supporters at her 2019 Golden Tennis Shoes Award luncheon (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

The gath­er­ing “red wave,” a Repub­li­can midterm tri­umph pre­dict­ed for moths, didn’t show enough strength in Wash­ing­ton State’s Top Two elec­tion to wash away a sand­cas­tle. Or, to use anoth­er com­mon polit­i­cal metaphor, the fre­quent­ly tout­ed Repub­li­can land­slide did not amount to a frost heave.

The Unit­ed States Supreme Court took away a right from Amer­i­cans recent­ly when it over­turned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 deci­sion that legal­ized abor­tion, but Judge Samuel Alito’s opin­ion appears to have mobi­lized Amer­i­can women… and giv­en a shot in the arm to the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Party.

With a cam­paign keyed to women’s rights to make their life deci­sions – a cause since she entered Con­gress in 1993 – Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Mur­ray was tak­ing near­ly fifty-four per­cent of the vote in her sum­mer show­down with tout­ed Repub­li­can chal­lenger Tiffany Smi­ley. Smi­ley was at thir­ty-two per­cent of the vote, ten points under what she reg­is­tered in recent polls.

“Let’s be clear: This was not a nor­mal midterm elec­tion,” Mur­ray said in a state­ment, not­ing that “our daugh­ters and grand­daugh­ters have lost the right to make their own decisions.”

It is hard to see Repub­li­cans putting resources behind a Sen­ate nom­i­nee who trailed a revi­tal­ized incum­bent by twen­ty-two points on Elec­tion Night .

Sim­i­lar­ly, as three Repub­li­can hope­fuls fought over who was more con­ser­v­a­tive, and a bet­ter crime fight­er, U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Kim Schri­er, D‑Washington, stressed choice, the rights of women, and bring­ing down drug prices. (Schri­er is dia­bet­ic.) The result: Schri­er, nar­row­ly reelect­ed in 2020, was tak­ing just under 50 per­cent of the vote in a dis­trict expand­ed to include east­ern Sno­homish County.

The Repub­li­cans weren’t even reg­is­ter­ing a frost heave.

Seek­ing to reclaim “mother’s seat” as 8th Dis­trict rep­re­sen­ta­tive in Con­gress, King Coun­ty Coun­cil mem­ber Rea­gan Dunn was bare­ly ahead of busi­ness­man Matt Larkin. Both had less than six­teen per­cent of the vote.

While wait­ing to see who she faces in Novem­ber, Schri­er on Tues­day night anchored her gen­er­al elec­tion cam­paign to bring­ing down costs to work­ing fam­i­lies and “pro­tect­ing a woman’s right to choose.”

A per­son obsessed with vengeance in both busi­ness and pol­i­tics, ex-Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump prob­a­bly looked for­ward to tonight’s pri­maries across Amer­i­ca as prom night. Three of ten Repub­li­can House mem­bers who vot­ed for impeach­ment were on the bal­lot. Two are from Wash­ing­ton, and Trump endorsed challengers.

The result, how­ev­er, was a mess. The impeach­ment vot­ers — incum­bents Jaime Her­rera Beut­ler and Dan New­house — didn’t light up the polls.

But the pro-MAGA vote was split three ways in both the 3rd and 4th Dis­tricts, leav­ing clear open­ings for the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty’s candidates.

Her­rera Beut­ler stood at 24.48% of the vote in the ini­tial results. Mean­while, hit by a secre­tive hit cam­paign, Trump-endorsed chal­lenger Joe Kent was limp­ing along at 20.11%. The sur­prise of the evening was Demo­c­ra­t­ic chal­lenger Marie Glut­senkamp Perez, who led all com­ers with 31.77% of the vote.

It’s not always that a can­di­date from Steven­son, Wash­ing­ton, makes heads turn in a nation­al elec­tion con­test. As JHB strug­gled to make it onto the Novem­ber bal­lot, Glut­senkamp Perez was sound­ing like a very tra­di­tion­al Demo­c­rat, promis­ing work to restore man­u­fac­tur­ing, “make child care and health care afford­able,” and push back against America’s divisiveness.

The night’s oth­er sur­prise came in the 4th District.

Since vot­ing to impeach Trump after the Jan­u­ary 6 insur­rec­tion, Dan New­house has retreat­ed to sta­tus as an obe­di­ent Repub­li­can back­bencher, tout­ing par­ty talk­ing points. He chairs the West­ern Cau­cus, a group of Repub­li­can law­mak­ers seek­ing to ease envi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tions on behalf of the min­ing, agribusi­ness and petro­le­um industries.

New­house was tak­ing only 27.32% of the vote in his Cen­tral Wash­ing­ton dis­trict, fol­lowed close­ly by Yaki­ma area farmer and restau­rant own­er Doug White.

An any­thing-but-for­lorn Demo­c­rat, White was the lead­ing vote-get­ter in Newhouse’s home base of Yaki­ma County.

Trail­ing, but still a pos­si­bil­i­ty for the Novem­ber bal­lot, was for­mer Repub­lic, Wash­ing­ton, police “chief” Loren Culp at 21.74% of the vote.

Culp lost the 2020 guber­na­to­r­i­al elec­tion by more than 500,000 votes but has yet to con­cede. The defeats may be lin­ing up on him.

Also far­ing poor­ly was far-right State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Brad Klip­pert, R‑Kennewick, who gave up his House seat to run.

A trio of work hors­es from the Wash­ing­ton del­e­ga­tion – Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer and Adam Smith, D‑Washington – piled up impres­sive vote totals. Smith, from the 9th Dis­trict, is chair­man of the House Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee, chal­lenged from the left by demo­c­ra­t­ic social­ist Stephanie Gallardo.

Smith pre­vailed in the Elec­tion Night tal­ly with more than 57% of the vote, triple the total of his Novem­ber oppo­nent, Repub­li­can Doug Basler.

Gal­lar­do trailed with just over 13% of the vote.

Rick Larsen is for­ev­er under fire from left activists in Belling­ham, who once booed him days before he vot­ed against the Iraq War resolution.

Shots from left and right bounce off the affa­ble incum­bent. With just under half of the total ini­tial vote, Larsen will face Repub­li­can Dan Matthews, who mus­tered just over sev­en­teen per­cent of the vote. Out of the run­ning is Jason Call, a con­tentious, two-time chal­lenger from the left.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Suzan Del­Bene, D‑Washington, was across the Pacif­ic in Taipei, as part of House Speak­er Nan­cy Pelosi’s con­gres­sion­al del­e­ga­tion. The Tai­wan vis­it was gen­er­at­ing angry state­ments from Bei­jing and scram­bling of fight­er planes over the For­mosa Strait. Del­Bene is cruis­ing in the new­ly redrawn 1st District.

Long­time incum­bents can get stunned. Recall, for instance, new­com­er Alexan­dria Oca­sio-Cortez in 2018 unseat­ing New York Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Joe Crow­ley, a mem­ber of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic con­gres­sion­al lead­er­ship. They don’t get sur­prised when out on the hus­tings, though. Larsen rang thou­sands of door­bells this sum­mer, while Kilmer knows most high school lunch­rooms on the Olympic Penin­su­la from town halls with con­stituents. He’s a prod­uct of Prince­ton and Oxford, but Port Ange­les High School is fea­tured in Kilmer’s biographies.

The Ali­to Court’s Dobbs rul­ing was hurt­ful and divi­sive for the coun­try. But it has pro­pelled Mur­ray out of the pro­tec­tive cocoon that so often sur­rounds a senior mem­ber of the Sen­ate. She looks like a peo­ple-pow­ered leader in blue jeans and – yes – ten­nis shoes, hear­ing out the folks at event after event.

I expect an ear­ly morn­ing email how-I-can-still-win email blast from Repub­li­can chal­lenger Tiffany Smi­ley. And I antic­i­pate watch­ing Mur­ray help shep­herd the $396 bil­lion cli­mate-and-health plan through the Senate.

The plan­et, and fam­i­lies with drug costs, will ben­e­fit by her presence.

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.

Adjacent posts