"No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions." --Thomas Jefferson to John Tyler, 1804.

Top 2 legislative lessons

There’s a limit to how closely lessons ought to be drawn from the vote numbers in last week’s Top 2 primary election in Washington. Although not a partisan primary in the usual sense, it probably drew a disproportionately partisan electorate – Democrats and Republicans eager to choose among their own, even if only imperfectly. Still, the thing was wide open to all, and it will stand as the best indicator of public attitudes until November.

Looking to the legislative races, there did seem to be some drawable conclusions. A lot of legislative districts behaved in the primary exactly as you’d expect – heavily R or D districts delivered almost all their votes for their partisans, for example. Extending that: We so few indicators of major shifts in voting patterns away from those established in the last few cycles.

Beyond that, here are some odds and ends we noticed.

bullet District 2 (Pierce, Thurston). Reinforcement here, really, of just how split this district is – and no indication that, unlike some suburban-type districts, this one is moving in the Democratic direction. While Democratic Senator Marilyn Rasmussen held on to 50.7%, the two Republican House members in this district took 55.8% and 61.6% against a total of five Democrats. Rasmussen may have her hands full.

bullet District 5 (rural east King County). One of the few still-Republican slices of King County, the question gets raised: Will it stay Republican? The two House races here, each featuring a Republican incumbent, seem to offer different prospects: Jay Rodne pulled a solid 58.8%, but Glenn Anderson only 50.8% – in a possible danger zone.

bullet District 8 (Benton). This is Republican territory likely staying Republican, but the numbers were still interesting. While the swarm of Republicans for the open seat took a combined 61.1%, fairly sound for the general, Larry Haler got just 55.6%, not massive for this slice of the state.

bullet District 26 (Pierce, Kitsap). Democrat Patricia Lantz has held one of the House seats here for years; at its opening this year, Republican Jan Angel took 54.2% over Democrat Kim Abel‘s 45.8%. Might this one switch?

bullet District 28 (Pierce, mainly suburban). Not really a change, but notable: Republican Senator Mike Carrell has had close races here before (52.3% in 2004), and it looks close again this time: He took 51.5% to 48.5% for Democrat Debi Srall.

bullet District 35 (Mason and parts of neighboring counties). This could be considered an old-fashioned conservative Democratic district, making it problematic for many newer-style Democrats. Democratic Representative William Eickmeyer has held it for a decade, now opting out, and the seat looks up for grabs. Randy Neatherlin, who Eickmeyer defeated last round, in the primary took 32.1% to Democrat Fred Finn‘s 36.7%. The parties are close split here.

bullet District 41 (King, Mercer Island and surrounds). In recent years, there’s been talk that the only kind of Republican who could hold a seat here was one like Fred Jarrett, a moderate who has succeeded here but this cycle opts out. In the two-person primary, Democrat Marcie Maxwell got 53.1% to Republican Steve Litzow‘s 46.9%. Looks close, but with a Democratic edge.

bullet District 44 (Snohomish). The seat long held by Democrat John Lovick now looks close: Democrat Liz Loomis pulled 50.6%, and Republican Mike Hope 49.4%. This may be a tight battle indeed.

bullet District 45 (King, eastern). When Republican Toby Nixon, a fixture in eastern King in his House seat, ran unsuccessfully last time for the Senate, his House seat was won by Democrat Roger Goodman. Now Nixon wants the seat back. Can he win it? With Goodman getting 50.9% in the primary to Nixon’s 49.1%, there’s no easy answer yet.

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