But Washington state? No divided government here. Of Washington’s nine statewide offices, Republicans had two. Now they have one, Secretary of State Kim Wyman. Instead of losing seats in the state House, Democrats won a couple. And they will maintain their comfortable majority in the state Senate.
Where does that leave Washington Republicans? Starting from scratch, without Donald Trump hovering overhead. Republicans should do what they should have done a couple years ago: develop a policy agenda that gives them a distinct identity, regardless of what’s happening in D.C. Dan Evans did that in the late ’60s and early ’70s. It mostly worked. Who can lead such a parade? I don’t know who, but I know how: Someone must appeal to working class voters who were motivated by Loren Culp (who ran almost five points ahead of Trump), and simultaneously appeal to the suburbs, where both men tanked.
The Democrats, ironically, will help them. With an open field to run on, they will go too far, as they’ve done with big majorities in the past. Republicans will be able to play off those extremes, and respond with an agenda that unites their party and appeals to independents and moderate Democrats. Here’s where to start: tax relief, education reform, lower car-tab fees and mandatory jail terms for crimes committed during a declared riot, including a six-month mandatory term for assaulting a police officer. Run them as ballot measures when Olympia blocks them.
It can’t get worse for Washington state Republicans than it is right now. Which means it’s about to get better.
Read more Crosscut contributors on what comes next: