The last few years have been rough for Republicans in Washington State.
Since Donald Trump became the face of their “party,” in cycle after cycle, whether local, midterm, or presidential, they’ve lost ground at every level to the Democrats as Evergreen State voters turn away from their increasingly toxic politics and backwards policies. It’s a now-seven year trend that shows few signs of ceasing.
Consider the history.
Within a year of Trump’s Electoral College victory, in 2017, Democrats ended Republicans’ hold on the Washington State Senate by winning a special election in the 45th District that sent Manka Dhingra to the statehouse. Dhingra has been overwhelmingly reelected twice since then, and is now a candidate for AG.
In 2018, Democrats significantly expanded their legislative majorities in both chambers, adding seven seats in the House and three in the Senate. They also captured the 8th Congressional District from Republicans for the first time, electing pediatrician Kim Schrier to the U.S. House of Representatives.
In 2020, Democrats reclaimed the office of State Treasurer from Republicans by electing Mike Pellicciotti, the only Democratic challenger to prevail over a Republican holding statewide executive office. The party also maintained its legislative majorities by sending right wing legislators Steve O’Ban and Luanne van Werven packing in the 28th and 42nd Legislative Districts at the same time Republicans were taking over the 19th Legislative District.
In 2021, Democrats expanded their majority on the King County Council, electing Sarah Perry to replace longtime Councilmember Kathy Lambert. Meanwhile, longtime Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman resigned and was replaced via gubernatorial appointment with a Democrat: Steve Hobbs.
In 2022, Democrats recaptured the 3rd Congressional District in Southwest Washington with Marie Gluesenkamp Perez and grew their majorities in the statehouse by one seat in each chamber while retaining Steve Hobbs as Secretary of State — in what was supposed to be a “red wave” year.
And, of course, during this timespan, Democrats have also successfully held on to what they already had — the other statewide executive department positions, for instance, and Washington’s two U.S. Senate seats and other U.S. House seats.
Democrats aren’t done. This year, they’re looking for more gains, and one of their top targets is the mayorship of Spokane, Washington’s second largest city.
The position is officially “nonpartisan,” but the absence of party labels on the ballot doesn’t mean the candidates don’t have party affiliations or strongly held convictions. Incumbent Mayor Nadine Woodward is a well known Republican, while her challenger Lisa Brown is a well known Democrat.
Woodward, who is completing her first term, succeeded fellow Republican David Condon, who served two terms as Mayor of Spokane. Altogether, that’s twelve years of Republican control of the Lilac City, an era that began before the Trump years. And it looks like it might be coming to an end next month, with Woodward’s reelection bid in extremely rough shape and Lisa Brown ascendant.
Brown won the Top Two round, garnering 47.53% of the vote, while Woodward only managed 36.59% — a truly abysmal performance for an incumbent. NPI understands that Woodward’s backers have data that affirms her weak standing, which is why the Realtors and others are spending a fortune to try to save her.
Right wing media is also sounding the alarm, showing how worried Republicans are about taking another big loss in a key Washington State race.
Consider this recent mini-editorial from The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH:
It’s really telling that Rantz — a host in the Seattle market — is spending airtime on his KTTH show to denounce Lisa Brown. It speaks to Republicans’ state of mind. They know Woodward is an incredibly weak position, with lots of self-inflicted wounds, including her decision to appear at a gathering organized by white supremacist Matt Shea shortly after the August Top Two election. And they know that voters in Spokane aren’t happy with Woodward’s record, either.
So, they’re throwing everything they can at Lisa Brown. It’s desperation time.
It’s amusing to hear Rantz gripe about how “nasty” the contest is getting. (Rantz is especially upset that an anti-Woodward independent expenditure is criticizing one of Woodward’s wealthy backers, developer Larry Stone, with this ad.) The attacks Woodward’s supporters are making against Brown don’t bother him, of course, only what Brown supporters are saying about Woodward bothers him.
Republicans have had more than a decade of control in Spokane and plenty of opportunities to demonstrate an aptitude for governing Washington’s second largest city — opportunities that have been repeatedly squandered. Woodward is the incumbent mayor, but if you haven’t been following this contest, you could be forgiven for not knowing that, given how poorly she’s performed so far.
Ballots are due on November 7th at 8 PM and the first results in the Spokane mayoral and city council contests will be released shortly after that.