It may be due to astute candidate recruitment, or it may be due to pure luck, but Republicans have certainly caught some breaks as the battle for control of the state Senate – the main event in this year’s election season – heats up. Republicans have been able to put at least two Democratic seats in play, while Democrats have been unable to recruit top tier candidates in several competitive districts.
In the big picture, this continues to look like a year without a dominant partisan tide. Normally the president’s party loses seats in off-year elections, especially in the sixth year of a president’s tenure, but national generic ballot polling on which party voters prefer is basically dead even between the two parties. In contrast, Republicans had a 9 percentage point advantage just before their landslide wins in 2010, while Democrats had an 11 point lead just before their big wins in 2006. The atmosphere could certainly change, but right now this looks like a year without a tide.
Here is how things look in the congressional and state legislative races for this year.
Republicans have succeeded in fielding a serious challenger to freshmen Democrat Rep. Suzan DelBene (below) in the 1st Congressional District, which covers East King County from Redmond north and large parts of Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom counties. Pedro Celis is a retired Microsoft engineer who has long been a leader in the Republican Party and the Hispanic community.
National Republican groups are fully engaged in helping Celis. The Celis campaign has hired a top shelf team of consultants, and is raising money. Celis can probably put some personal resources into the race. The 1st was drawn to be a competitive district, and the GOP jas done recent polling showing the district actually leans slightly Republican. But DelBene is now an experienced campaigner with very deep personal pockets. This is a race to watch, but for now it leans to the Democrats.
Veteran Congressman Doc Hastings’ retirement will create a furious battle for central Washington’s 4th Congressional district. This race will be fun to watch, but the drama will be centered on what kind of Republican ultimately wins the seat. Will it be Tea Partier Clint Didier, or a more mainstream choice, such as state Sen. Janea Holmquist Newbry or former state Rep. Dan Newhouse?
Our state’s other eight members of Congress appear to be cruising to re-election.
State Senate outlook
Democrats and their allies are determined to gain the two seats they need to retake nominal control of the Senate. Republicans and their Majority Coalition Caucus allies would love to pad their current 26-23 advantage on the Senate floor. Since my first report in February, two races have moved into different categories, and both switches favor the GOP, with the 30th Legislative District race going from leaning D to leaning R, and the 47th District race moving from lean R to likely R.
Here is the current outlook on competitive Senate race.
28th LD (Lakewood, University Place): Sen. Steve O’Ban (R) vs. Rep. Tami Green (D): O’Ban was elected to the House for the first time in 2012, then appointed to the Senate soon after when Republican Sen. Mike Carrell passed away. Green has been elected to the House five times. Green is more familiar to voters, but the district leans slightly Republican. One consultant described this to me as, “the race of the year.”
45th LD (Redmond/Woodinville): Sen. Andy Hill (R) vs Matt Isenhower (D): Hill barely unseated a Democratic incumbent four years ago in a very good Republican year. Isenhower is a Navy veteran and now an executive at Amazon. Hill has served as Way and Means Chairman under the coalition, making him the point person on budget issues. The district is evenly split; and Isenhower is already raising significant funds.
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