Writings and observations

Pierce Republicans

Pierce County council

Pierce County Council

Washington’s Pierce County has some of the hottest politics going for those who enjoy watching the unpredictable. It has emerged as Washington’s key swing county.

Its raw numbers are significant – it is the second largest county in the Northwest, behind only King. Its key central city, Tacoma, is solidly Democratic, but accounts for less than a third of the county’s population, and the rest is widely variable. Pierce went for Democrats for most of the major offices – for president, for governor, for U.S. House, all candidates winning decisively around the state.

Below that, things get more complex. Pierce voted for the losing Republicans for lands commissioner (incumbent Doug Sutherland) and treasurer (Allan Martin). It also voted for Republican Rob McKenna for attorney general, which – since McKenna won strongly overall – wouldn’t be a big deal except that his Democratic challenger, John Ladenburg is the current Pierce County executive. And a string of Pierce-area legislative seats were hotly contested and very close.

The race to replace Ladenburg has been heated and very close. Evidently – and based on current run-throughs of the county’s ranked voting formula – Democrat Pat McCarthy seems to have defeated Republican Shawn Bunney, but only 50.7% to 49.3%.

And there’s this: Pierce has a seven-member county council, and five of its members are Republicans; the two Democrats are based closely on Tacoma. One of them, Tim Farrell, “half-jokingly said he sees himself as ‘the leader of the resistance’ on a council with a Republican supermajority. Farrell said he works well with chairman Terry Lee, Dick Muri and Shawn Bunney. He described them as moderate Republicans. But he fears a Republican supermajority could lead to a shift to more conservative policies.”

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