Democratic dominoes topple, with the loss of the House

As some key Democrats adjust to their new minority status, the game of musical chairs gets interesting.

As some key Democrats adjust to their new minority status, the game of musical chairs gets interesting.

How will the changed political landscape affect local politics? Here are some very early thoughts.

One obvious impact of the loss of Democratic control of the House in D.C. is that some of the delegation will think about change, unhappy with being in the minority. Norm Dicks (D-6), after spending a lifetime slowly climbing to a plum chairmanship (Appropriations), had it snatched away from him just as he was about to get it. Dicks has been talking about retiring in 2012, possibly clearing the way for his son David to run for the Tacoma-based seat. Perhaps that will now happen, though Dicks is such a skilled veteran that he knows well how to be effective in a minority.

Jay Inslee (D-1) easily won re-election but he may well decide early to leave Congress, now that he's in the minority, and launch his long-dreamed-of race for governor in 2012. One good question is whether any other Democrat (or Independent) might want to get into this race; Rob McKenna, the attorney general, has a virtual lock on the Republican slot. Complicating the race will be Gov. Gregoire and the timing of her decision to seek a third term or not. I suspect she has already decided in her mind not to run again, but governors tend to put off any such announcements, lest they be lame ducks too long.

If Jim McDermott (D-7)  decides to give up his super-safe seat because of minority blues, that would set off a mad scramble for his job, considered the fattest plum (with lifetime tenure) of all Democratic posts. Ron Sims might return to run for it; Dow Constantine could look at it (or maybe even a governor's race); Greg Nickels could re-emerge.

The unseating of so many incumbents could also have an effect on the University of Washington's search for a new president. Former senators and governors often find their way into university posts. In the last round, sources say former Sen. Bill Bradley was an on-again, off-again candidate for the position ultimately filled by Mark Emmert. One name being touted if Defense Secretary Bob Gates, who has a retirement home in north Puget Sound and was president of Texas A&M before being tapped by George Bush. On the other hand, the faculty is pushing hard for a true academic to lead the embattled UDub.


Please support independent local news for all.

We rely on donations from readers like you to sustain Crosscut's in-depth reporting on issues critical to the PNW.


About the Authors & Contributors