Washington State Legislature
Washington State Office of Farmland Preservation
Democrats won huge majorities in both houses of the state Legislature in the 2006 anti-Bush landslide. Since then, the GOP has slowly won seats back. Once again this year, the Republicans will largely be playing offense, while the Ds concentrate on incumbent protection.
The dust is still settling from redistricting. Politicians are still deciding whether or not to run. We will know much more once the legislative session ends in March. Republicans may or may not win outright majorities this November in either house, but a gain of just a few seats would allow them to work with moderate, pro-business, “road kill” Democrats to effectively control the agenda in 2013.
Later this year I will start projecting possible wins and losses for each party. At this early stage, however, here are the races that are likely to be competitive.
Twenty-four seats are up, 12 currently held by Rs and 12 held by Ds. Republicans need a net gain of 3 take a 25-24 majority. Republicans have two clear targets, and are looking to develop two more, but they also have two potentially vulnerable incumbents who may face tough races.
Likely competitive races:
25th District — open seat: Democratic Sen. Jim Kastama is running for Secretary of State. The 25th district, made up of suburban communities east of Tacoma, including Puyallup and Sumner, has been trending Republican. In 2010, Republicans narrowly defeated a Democratic House incumbent here, giving the GOP both House seats. The Republican candidate for the open Senate seat is Rep. Bruce Dammeier. Dammeier, a Navy veteran and former school board member, easily won an open seat in 2008, and was even more easily re-elected in 2010.
He is considered a rising star, and a Republican leader on education. Dammeier has over $150,000 in the bank, and the Democrats have not recruited a candidate yet. This looks like a likely GOP win, but the district is still competitive and the Ds are not likely to give it up without a fight.
10th District — Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen (D): Republicans believe that Rep. Barbara Bailey will challenge Haugen, who has served in Olympia since 1982. Bailey was first elected to the House in 2002. The 10th is made up of parts of the northwest Puget Sound: Island County and parts of Skagit and Snohomish counties. The 10th leans Republican, and the GOP holds both House seats.
Will Haugen run again? Will Bailey really run? If the answer to both is yes, this becomes a classic brawl between two veteran politicians. Even if Bailey opts out, the Senate Rs will likely recruit another candidate. It is hard to see them winning the majority without winning the 10th.
1st District — Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe (D): Republicans have never paid much attention to the 1st, a district made up of close-in suburbs directly north of Lake Washington, including Kirkland, Bothell, and Mountlake Terrace. Democrats have long controlled all three legislative seats. But in 2010, both House seats came open and both races were close. The two GOP House candidates received 47 percent and 49 percent.
Then redistricting made the district slightly more Republican. This has drawn the attention of the Senate Rs as they look for targets in addition to the 25th and 10th. Sen. McAuliffe, chair of the Senate Education Committee, is 71, and has served in the Senate since 1993. There are rumors she will not seek re-election. Given the right set of circumstances, this race could become very interesting.
19th District — Brian Hatfield (D): Republicans have never won, or even seriously contested races in the 19th, a very rural district along the Pacific Coast (Grays Harbor, Pacific, and Wahkiakum counties). But Dino Rossi received 49 percent here in 2008, and redistricting made the 19th more Republican. The rest of rural America is voting Republican, why not the 19th LD? Hatfield has served in the House and Senate since 1994 and has never faced a tough race. Can the Rs recruit a candidate to put this race in play?
41st District — Sen. Steve Litzow (R): Four years ago, Fred Jarrett won this Mercer Island/south Bellevue district for the Democrats. Then King County Executive Dow Constantine hired Jarrett to serve as his deputy. In 2010, Republican Steve Litzow won the election to complete Jarrett’s term. Now Litzow must face the voters again for a full four year term. The 41st leans Democratic. Litzow won by only 194 votes two years ago. If the Ds find a strong candidate, this race will be competitive. But Litzow is a strong campaigner, has positioned himself as a very moderate Republican, and has roughly $100,000 in the bank.
28th District —Sen. Mike Carrell (R): This is the other seat where Republicans may be vulnerable. The 28th comprised of the suburbs directly south of Tacoma, Lakewood and University Place, is highly competitive, but leans D. In the 2010 GOP landslide, both Republican House candidates came close, but lost. Redistricting did improve the district slightly for the GOP. Carrell was elected to the House in 1994, and has served in the Senate since 2004. He is a tough campaigner, and has narrowly survived several close elections. Still, if the Democrats recruit a serious candidate, this will be a very competitive race.
State House of Representatives
All 98 seats are up. Republicans need a net gain of eight to take a 50-48 majority.
Likely competitive races:
30th District — open seat: Veteran Democratic Rep. Mark Miloscia is running for State Auditor. The 30th is a south King County suburban district made up primarily of the city of Federal Way. The district leans slightly Democrat, but Republicans picked up an open House seat here in 2010, and they believe they have a top tier candidate to win this seat too. Tony Moore is an African American business owner and the president of the Federal Way School Board. In 2010, Moore received 48 percent running for the Senate against veteran Democrat incumbent Tracy Eide. If Moore is truly running, the GOP probably has the edge in this race.
45th District — open seat: Rep. Roger Goodman is one of five serious Democrats running for Congress in the re-drawn 1st Congressional Democrats. If he stays in the race the GOP has a great chance to win this seat. The 45th is part of the suburbs east of Seattle, including Redmond, Woodinville, and Duvall. Goodman barely survived 2010, winning 51 percent to 49 percent, and redistricting improved the 45th for the GOP.
35th District — both seats: The 35th made up of Shelton and the other rural communities east of Olympia, is a Republican-leaning district represented by three Democrats in the Legislature. (Although Sen. Tim Sheldon has always voted like a Republican on most issues.) Rossi won here in 2008 with 51 percent, and redistricting made the district a bit more Republican. In 2010, Republicans came close in both House races, receiving 47 percent against Rep. Fred Finn, and 49 percent against Rep. Kathy Haigh.
Finn is retiring and Republicans have a strong candidate for the open seat in Drew MacEwen, vice president of the Shelton Chamber of Commerce. Fireman Dan Griffey is once again running against Haigh. Griffey came very close last time with very little money. The GOP will fully fund both of these races this time and may win them both.
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