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Posts published in “Day: November 8, 2006”

A small transition, by the river

Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski's win on Tuesday was a good deal more substantial than his first for the office in 2002, when he narrowly won and carried eight of the state's 36 counties.

Kulongoski counties 2002
Kulongoski counties 2002
Kulongoski counties 2006
Kulongoski counties 2006

Those counties were Benton, Clatsop, Columbia, Hood River, Lane, Lincoln, Mulnomah and Tillamook. They were barely enough to eke out a win.

In this election he won with a much bigger margin even though adding just two counties to the mix. The numerically important of those was Washington County, the state's second largest, a county trending Democratic steadily over the past 20 years and a key building block to Democratic statewide wins. It accounts for many of the gains leading to Democratic control of the state legislature. (Kulongoski nearly won it four years ago.)

The other, much smaller but in some ways more interesting, is Wasco County, home of The Dalles.

Going way back, The Dalles and surrounding country is ranching, timber and resource country that has trended Republican. It had enough union base to support the Democratic surge in the mid-50s and into the 60s, but in the 70s seemed to begin joining the parade of rural counties in casting Republican-dominant votes. Only in the 90s did it occasionally, quirkily, vote for Democrats in the case of a particularly popular candidate. But in this new decade, there's been a subtle transition, and now it seems to have taken hold.


Boise blue

Most Idaho Democrats had to content themselves with vicarious pleasures on Tuesday; their in-state races were mostly a long string of disappointments, and for the first time in well over half a century the party is left without a single elected representative above the level of state representative.

We'd guess, though, that one finder of a silver lining was David Bieter, a nonpartisan mayor of Boise who wasn't even on the ballot Tuesday - he will be up for re-election in May. The numbers were bound to give Bieter some cheer. Especially the numbers in four legislative districts.

Go back to the top of the decade and you'll find Boise legislators who were Democrats, three of them bunched in one district, District 19 in the north end of town. There, in that little corner, they were unassailable, but mostly lost when they ventured into other districts.

Four years ago, though, there were signs of progress, with a couple of state Senate seat wins in the neighboring district. Two years ago, in 2004, they expanded on that a little, so the map of the district looked like this.

Ada districts in 2004

Clearly, the Democratic strength was expanding outside District 19 into its three neighbors (the purple areas indicate mixed delegations of three per district).

This year, they consolidated, and strikingly took over those districts, really made them their own. These districts now look like this.


WA results 1: A focused push

The results in so far suggest that the worst bit of campaigning tactics Dave Reichert engaged in this season was allowing himself to be photographed with George W. Bush.

We don't yet know if that was a fatal error. King County has been frustratingly slow in its vote counts, so far - as this is written early Wednesday morning - counting not much more than half of the ballots it has in place. (And more will be coming in the mail beyond that.) So we don't really know, yet, how the 8th district congressional race (in which Reichert is challenged by Democrat Darcy Burner) is coming out, other than that it is presently close and probably will continue to be.

We see, so far, a string of legislative races in the same general area as that district which mostly have been turning to Democrats, eviscerating what was not long ago a big Republican base on the east side of King County. But we can't yet be sure that's happening because the county continues to take its sweet time releasing the numbers.

Well, better accurate than early, if we must choose. But some explanation seems needed. Soon.

The Eastside seems to be the core of action, because not much else in the state seemed to change normal patterns by much. There was a lot of talk that Washington's 5th district (based around Spokane) was up for grabs - even the Republican incumbent, Cathy McMorris, clearly thought so - but in the end she defeated Democrat Peter Goldmark decisively.

Reichert-Burner has been a lot closer. Reichert has had the edge through most of the counting, but not so much as to - yet at least - put it away.

Back before long.