In sorting tea leaves, take a look at the very close primary race between state Lands Commissioner Doug Sutherland, a Republican, and his challenger, Peter Goldmark, an Okanagan Democrat. Sutherland looks like the only statewide officeholder, aside from Gov. Gregoire, in a tight race for reelection. The race will be a barometer of the greenward tilting of the Evergreen State. As a relatively low-profile, down-on-the-ballot race, it's also a good measure of where the Democratic voters are.
Take a look, then, at the county-by-county tally. Not surprisingly, King County, which is giving Goldmark 59 percent of the vote, is the most Democratic, matched by Jefferson County (mixing Port Townsend liberals with old labor). Next on the list is San Juan County (58 percent for Goldmark), with its wealthy retirees and Seattle weekenders. Cowlitz County is a surprising 54 percent for Goldmark, probably a reflection of some publicized mudslides from timber practices. Snohomish is 52, Whatcom and Spokane are 51, Kitsap is 50. Normally Democratic Thurston (48) and Pierce (46) might indicate the value of Sutherland's name familiarity and the disadvantage to Goldmark of being from eastern Washington.
The state is becoming a Democratic stronghold, with a 6-3 advantage in the Congressional delegation, whopping majorities in the Legislature, and maybe only two statewide officeholders (Attorney General Rob McKenna and Secretary of State Sam Reed). Thanks particularly to House Speaker Frank Chopp's busy recruiting of conservative Democratic candidates in Eastern Washington and the suburban belts around Seattle, the blue tinge to our counties is spreading beyond the voters you can see from atop the Space Needle.
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