Another Washington legislator out, but a Democrat this time. What might it mean in this year's contest? A first look at this suggests it may not mean a great deal of change.
He is Bill Fromhold, from Vancouver: And Clark County is seriously contestable territory. Fromhold (should note here that he isn't leaving under a scandal cloud, and hasn't been an especially controversial elected official) will serve out his term but become executive director of a local nonprofit. Once considered a prospect for state superintendent of public instruction, he now seems to be headed to work in another education area (the Mentoring Advanced Placement Program).
District 49 is the most Democratic part of Clark County - its three legislators all are Democrats - and a look at the map dispels any mystery as to why: It is the urban, Vancouver city-centric, district, running west of I-205 and north of the Columbia but stopping to the north around Hazel Dell - generally, the more established and settled city area. It was nevertheless more accustomed, a decade ago, to voting for more Republicans than it has recently.
Fromhold has had routinely strong and slightly growing re-elect numbers: 61.2% in 2002, 62.3% in 2004 and 64.7% in 2006. The other House member here, Democrat Jim Moeller, scored over 60% in his last two elections. The senator, Craig Pridemore, is up for re-election this year, and won with just 50.7% in 2004. But, in that election he was the challenger (albeit that he was then a county commissioner) against Republican incumbent Don Carlson, a generally popular local figure who'd been elected to the legislature routinely since 1992. Pridemore looks generally solid for re-election at this point. This district seems to have moved leftward in the last two to three years.
Generally, an open seat is an improved opportunity for an opposition party. This one could be of just limited advantage.