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Posts published in “Day: November 10, 2006”

Deccio: Politics had nothing to do with it

ARepublican whose departure from elective office takes effect in January, and word of it comes out on election day. But for Washington state Senator Alex Deccio of Yakima, the reason isn't politics - he's in mid-term and wasn't up for election this year. It's health. He's dealing with prostate cancer, and it needs his attention, and he so informed the appropriate officials (the lieutenant governor and his party's leaders) on election day.

Alex Deccio
Alex Deccio

Doubtless his party's leaders were sorry to see him go, but at least he will be replaced by another Republican, in contrast to some other Republicans that day.

There's a certain other irony here. Some legislators are generalists, and some specialists. While Deccio certainly looked after his district (the Yakima Herald-Republic story on his departure attached a picture of him at the Yakima SunDome, development of which he played a key role), his legislative specialty was health.

Deccio looked at it broadly. You might not expect a Yakima Republican to lead work on AIDS-related legislation in the country, but he did. He did that work while never becoming an outlier in his party's caucus, a notable achievement. (He did also, it should be noted, take some anti-stem cell research stances as well.)

Democrats looking to work on health issues next session at Olympia may want to review his record; some useful pointers may be found there.

The Cantwell expansion

Much remarked on the general election win by Democratic incumbent Senator Maria Cantwell was its size (57.2% as of this morning - the endless Washington county goes on). We'll note here of two implications of that.

Cantwell counties 2000
Cantwell counties 2000
Cantwell counties 2006
Cantwell counties 2006

This was a broad win, not just deep. You see the point in the maps of Cantwell's super-close win in 2000 and this one: Her wins of just five counties of Washington's 39 has expanded to 22 counties this time. That's an important demonstration of ability to win in places outside the most liberal sectors of the Puget sound region, which is mostly what she took last time. It's a demonstration of durability, for one thing.

Some of the county wins had interest of their own. The win along the eastern Spokane-Whitman-Asotin strip was notable, for example. A win in Spokane County wasn't necessarily very striking by itself, though put together with its award of a second state Senate seat to the Democrats that city - long reputed a Republican bastion - does seem to be in political transition. But Cantwell's numbers in Asotin and Whitman, normally Republican places, are of note, as is her close loss in Walla Walla County, which similarly could be undergoing some (wine country and gentrification-related) transition.

The decisive win in Clark County may be of some importance too. That county is a generally close partisan split, and Democratic wins there are not especially unusual. But Cantwell lost it last time, and Clark's fast growth in this decade means a lot of votes have been up for grabs and may be becoming oriented for some time to come. Growing numbers of them there seem to be orienting toward Democratic candidates.

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