Writings and observations

Did the primary election results in Washington say a lot we didn’t already know about what to expect out of the November election?

Not a tremendous amount, although the results should give everyone some reason not to get comfortable.

In the Senate race, incumbent Democrat Patty Murray took 46% to Republican Dino Rossi‘s 34%. For Murray, her portion of the vote is less than she should have wanted; there’s a line of thought that anything under 50% for an incumbent in a generally open primary like this one is dangerous. Certainly the figure suggests some vulnerability. But Rossi’s task is formidable. While he will surely get a lot of the Republican vote that splintered off in other directions in this election, he’s also going to have to appeal powerfully to the independents. Rossi’s climb here is steeper than Murray’s, though both have some work to do.

In the U.S. House 3 race, which is open, Democrat Denny Heck led as expected with 31.5%, to Republican Jaime Herrera‘s 27.2%. If you add the votes from all the Democratic and all the Republican contenders together, though, you get 43% for the Democrats and 53% for the Republicans – which suggests an edge for Herrera. Balance that against financial and other structural advantages Heck has, and you get a highly competitive race. This one can truly go either way; a lot really will depend on how well each of these (highly polished and articulate) candidates, and their organizations, perform, not least in the area of November voter turnout.

One other factor should be considered: Most of the competition in these and other major races around Washington was on the Republican side, which may have helped inflate Republican turnout, compared to Democratic, a bit. How much? Hard to say.

Regional. Among the Republicans: Didier won just two counties, Benton and Franklin, doing well enough in the latter to give it to Murray in a Murray-Rossi faceoff. Which won’t happen in November. But check out the overall state map for the election and you’ll get a familiar-looking picture: Murray won a plurality or better in all counties west of the Cascades except Lewis, plus Spokane and Klickitat. Against a Republican unencumbered by splinter candidates, Murray likely cannot win as many. But then, she wouldn’t need so many to win. And she has an opportunity to pick up more votes in the Democratic precincts that didn’t turn out this time. Chances are good, for example, that she can improve on the 58% she got in King County today. (In 2008, Barack Obama got 70% there for president, and Democrat Chris Gregoire, running for governor against Rossi, took 63.9%.)

Share on Facebook

Washington

Consider for a moment the subject of the media political frenzy – that supposedly powerful, big grassroots movement going by the name of the Tea Party.

To judge from Washington primary results, they don’t look so big and powerful tonight. They look, rather, like minor players – the establishment favorites carried the day. (Or at least have so far, but the results seem decisive enough that reversals in the week to come are highly unlikely.)

In the U.S. Senate race on the Republican side – not the “Republican primary” since this is a top-two, all comers considered election – the establishment, non-Tea candidate was Dino Rossi, the former state senator and twice a gubernatorial candidate. He was much better known, had much more organizational and financial support than his opponent, and his win Tuesday wasn’t a surprise to much of anyone.

But here’s the numbers (as of this evening): Rossi 33.9%, Tea Party (and Sarah Palin) favorite Clint Didier 11.95%, and Tea second-runner-up Paul Akers 2.5%. For all the splash Didier made, and he made a lot of splash, the votes weren’t there – not nearly. Voters taken as a whole didn’t seem to have a problem with Rossi the (conservative) establishment candidate, as such. So much for the tsunami insurgency which Rossi, to his strategic credit, seems to have recognize was overrated (though, yes, he did cater to it more in the last two to three weeks than he had before).

The other key race was for the one open U.S. House seat, in Washington’s 3rd district (southwest Washington, from Olympia to Vancouver to the coast). All three significant candidates ran as conservatives, but of different shades. State Representative Jaime Herrera, widely considered the front runner, was probably the most establishment of the group in overall approach. David Castillo, who also had some backing from highly visible party people but also had some Tea support, was more or less in the middle. David Hedrick, a newcomer, ran full steam on Tea concentrate (privatize Social Security, for example).

The result? Herrera outpolled the other two put together (27.2% to 12% for Castillo and 13.8% for Hedrick). The perils of being flanked on both sides may have weighed down Castillo. But the overall strength ran heavily to Herrera.

Not a good night for the hard-core insurgency. We’ve had the suspicion for more than a year that it has been overrated. And for the most part, it seems to be, except when actual voters weigh in.

Share on Facebook

Washington

The matter of the giant trucks that want to use Idaho’s slice of Highway 12 – a thin, twisting road that tests even drivers of compact cars – might yet turn into a genuine political issue.

The point was laid out neatly in a comment on an Idaho Statesman story today about a lawsuit filed to block the truck traffic. The comment says in part: “So let’s get this straight: one of the largest multi-national corporations – with no ties to Idaho, wants to block both lanes of an Idaho highway, create an extreme traffic and environment hazard in our state, to haul South Korean made equipment, on the way to harvest oil in Canada? ..then we get to pay to rebuild our torn-up road when they are done with their 200 oversize loads? did I get that right?”

Have a look at Fighting Goliath, an energetic web site on the subject.

Share on Facebook

Idaho