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WA legislature: A count, with notes

Apart from one early count on Sound Politics (which has held up pretty well), there hasn’t been much rundown of exactly where Tuesday’s elections left the Washington legislature, other than that Democrats did really well and Republicans didn’t.

Here’s what we take away from the election results so far, recognizing that not all votes have been counted but also that, in most cases, at least enough have to nail down results. We see only two Washington legislative races still in realistic doubt.

Chamber 2004 Dem 2004 Rep 2006 Dem 2006 Rep 2006 undec
Senate 26 23 32 17 0
House 57 41* 64 32 2


*House numbers are thrown a bit by the Rodney Tom party shift.

About the two seats we single out . . . Both are currently held by Republicans who were running for re-election. Incumbent Republican Barbara Bailey in District 10, as of the end of last week, held a 172-vote advantage over Democrat Tim Knue; she’s favored for re-election, but this is still too close to definitely call unless (and this wasn’t clear) all votes are in. On the other hand, Republican incumbent Jim Dunn in District 17 is behind 144 votes, losing to Democrat Pat Campbell; but again, we’re not clear on what ballot remain out there. If one went Democratic, the House split would be 65-32 – a more than two-thirds margin, which could have significance in some House procedural or other actions.

For a good many years, most of the last decade at least, Washington’s statehouse could reasonably have been described as closely split (especially bearing in mind the case of Tim Sheldon in the Senate). That is no longer true: Democrats now hold the most decisive margins in both chambers that either party has enjoyed in a long time.

The Senate seats which appear to shift R to D:

District 6 – Chris Marr (D), defeating Republican incumbent Brad Benson, 56.2%.

District 26 – Derek Kilmer (D), a state representative defeating Jim Hines (R ) 60.4% for the seat vacated by retiring Senator Bob Oke (R).

District 44 – Steve Hobbs (D), defeating Republican incumbent Dave Schmidt, 54%.

District 45 – Eric Oemig (D), defeating Republican state Representative Toby Nixon, for the seat which had been held by Republican Bill Finkbeiner, 53.7%.

District 47 – Claudia Kauffman (D), defeating Mike Riley (R ) for the open seat which had been held by Stephen Johnson (who ran this year for the Supreme Court), 52.4%.

District 48 – Rodney Tom (D), a state representative who earlier this year switched party designation from Republican to Democratic, defeating incumbent Republican Senator Luke Esser, 54%.

You see the number pattern: The last four all are Seattle suburb districts, and 45, 47 and 48 all are on the east side of King County – the most hotly contested turf in the state. The congressional contest which centers on this area – the District 8 U.S. House contest – now seems like to go to incumbent Republican Dave Reichert. But only very narrowly, and then only with a push from the rural part of Pierce County which makes up its southern fifth. Eastern King is moving hard in the Democratic column, and these legislative results show that if he does survive this time Reichert should expect another challenge, just as hard, next time around.

The Democratic House wins were a little more scattered: One around Spokane, one in Kitsap county, a few in central or western King and Pierce counties. These too are transitional and marginal areas.

The most interesting of these may be the most remote from the others – District 6 in Spokane, which went from an all-Republican delegation to two Democrats and one Republican. That means that the three local Spokane area districts (3, 4 and 6) now have five Democrats to four Republicans – compared to six Republicans and three Democrats last term. Are we on the edge of redefining Spokane as we’re in the process of redefining Boise to its south? And the eastside of King County?

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