Election 2010: winners and losers

In which column would you put Bill Gates Sr. and the color purple? You might find some surprises here.

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Bill Gates, Sr.

In which column would you put Bill Gates Sr. and the color purple? You might find some surprises here.

Mossback assesses Election 2010, calling winners and losers as he sees them. And he's got a pointed question about at least one write-in vote that appears to have gone uncounted.


Tax haters: It might not have been quite the perfect storm, but an imperfect one can be bad enough. Control of the state Senate in Olympia is in the balance. If it swings Republican, it will add legislative clout to the anti-tax, anti-spending trend seen in the passage of Tim Eyman's tax limitation measure (I-1053), the rollback of the Snack Tax, the defeat of the income tax measure (I-1098), the defeat of King County's Prop. 1 sales-tax measure for public safety, and possibly the end of the state liquor sales monopoly and the revenues it generates for the state, counties and cities. The message to government: Live within your means, and oh, by the way, we're slashing your allowance. The cumulative effect will be to move state and local governments toward being able to dunk, if not drown, government in the bathtub.

Bill Gates, Sr: I-1098, the progressive income-tax measure, went down to a big defeat. Where's the glory in that? Not much, but what there is is significant. Gates, immune to the third rail of state politics, went forth and became the articulate, responsible, civil, and sometimes funny pitchman for resolving Washington's regressive tax system by asking those who can afford it to help more, and to ease burdens on the rest of us. The problem, which even Bill Gates Sr. and Jr. can't solve with their wealth, is the "trust in government" issue. The slippery slope argument won the day. But Gates did what the legislature cannot and will not do, what most politicos are afraid of doing: put together the beginnings of a tax reform proposal that is more just than the current system. Kudos for that.

The Color Purple: Major recent gains for Democrats in the suburbs, and especially the Eastside, have been watched with glee by Seattle Democrats. This has been seen by some as an inevitable consequence of urban growth: "Density = Democrats" is the formulation that Democratic political consultant Christian Sinderman puts forth. The Ds were aided by House Speaker Frank Chopp's ability to recruit suburban-friendly candidates (non-ideological business people) and the party was able to snag a few party flippers, like former state Rep. Fred Jarrett and Sen. Rodney Tom. The election wasn't a wipe-out for suburban Ds; some, like Rep. Judy Clibborn in the 41st, Reps. Deb Eddy and Ross Hunter in the 48th and Larry Springer in the 45th, were ahead for re-election. Tom also had a narrow lead. What do they have in common? They're pro-business pragmatists, not your typical urban Ds. But others are having a tougher time, like incumbent Sens. Eric Oemig of Kirkland and Randy Gordon of Bellevue. Also significant: an easy victory by 8th Congressional District Rep. Dave Reichert, who essentially coasted. In short, the Eastside's blue tide turned a bit more purple.

Californians: It's back to the future with Jerry Brown, a great move if the old Jerry of the '70s is back in the saddle. Minimalist Zen liberalism, your time has come! Also, the very satisfying defeats of Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina, two self-funded corporate creeps who went down to defeat, bucking the national GOP trend.

The Washington initiative and TV industries: Scores of millions of dollars poured into the state to pass or defeat various initiatives, most of it flowing to TV advertising and proving that the one booming business during hard times is running a controversial ballot measure with deep-pocketed opponents and proponents. Get a food fight going, then sit back and let the money flow. Who says there's no cure for the economy? Tim Eyman is also sure to be a happy man, having found a more reliable job than being a watch salesman.


Costco boozers: You know who you are. You voted for I-1100 because you couldn't wait to back the SUV up to Costco and fill it with cheap booze. Sorry, those bargains look like they'll have to wait and your hangover will come at a higher price with the defeat of the two liquor initiatives. 

The new Republican House Speaker John Boehner: Did you see his performance on election night? He slurred his words, he began crying while telling his own personal story. That's right, he wasn't feeling your pain or getting misty-eyed over someone else's incredible journey through life, he was moved by his own passage from dishwasher to Congress. It was like the emperor Nero weeping at his own poetry. It was either an incredible display of narcissism, or the new Speaker ought to consider beginning his next term with a stint in AA. Yikes.

California pot smokers: They apparently couldn't find their way through the haze to the polls.

Centrists: Pendulum-swing elections are tough on centrists. One cycle they get elected, the next they're knocked out before they can take root. Such is life in swing districts. Thus, the national Democrats lost many Blue Dogs, meaning surviving Congressional Democrats will be more liberal, and the middle-of-the-road Ds who lost are replaced, in many cases, by Tea Party Republicans. In other words, Congress looks to be less able to work out compromises, at least on paper. Much depends on the GOP calculation about whether working with Obama is good politics, or they should continue as the party of "No." Hope for a "centrist" third party emergence seems unrealistic: The Jon Stewart movement is unlikely to launch people who will be rabidly in the middle. More likely would be a Tea Party splinter if the GOP goes too far to the middle. The effect will be for the party extremes to retrench and, in the words of Horsesass.org liberal blogger David Goldstein, get even more partisan. Many liberals won't miss the Blue Dogs, until they need their votes.

The Secretary of State's office: On election night, Barry Mitzman, a Seattle University communications professor, pointed out an egregious mistake. The vote for unopposed Supreme Court Justice Jim Johnson shows him getting 100 percent of the vote, but Barry said that he wrote my name in for Supreme Court Justice. If Alaska can track write-in votes on election night, why don't we? Sam Reed, I want my single vote recorded for posterity, and the record to show that Johnson was not elected unanimously.


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About the Authors & Contributors

Knute Berger

Knute Berger

Knute “Mossback” Berger is Crosscut's Editor-at-Large.