Writings and observations

snohomish

When Jerry Brown, who is running for governor in California this year, ran for that office the first time in 1974, he spoke of “moving left and right at the same time.” Is Snohomish County taking that to heart 36 years on?

First, and most significantly, the 2nd congressional district – which runs north to the Canadian border but gets close to half of its votes from Snohomish County – showed signs of being competitive in November. It used to be highly competitive, and in the 90s even Republican-leaning, before starting to elect Democrat Rick Larsen, now seeking his sixth term. Larsen took a solid 62% in his last election, and 64% in each of the two before that. In his first two, he won closer, 50%-46%. In the first of those, he faced Republican John Koster, who is running – hard – this year.

In yesterday’s primary results, Larsen leads Koster but just barely, 42.8% to 40.9%. Slipping that far below 50%, against an opponent who’s running as close, is a clear danger sign. While none of the other Washington U.S. House incumbents showed signs of serious danger in the primary numbers, Larsen clearly will have to run seriously in the couple of months from here to there. His edge is not overwhelming.

Their strategists may notice something of interest in those primary results: The two candidates didn’t fare equally well everywhere. Of the five counties in the district, Larsen won five, three (King, Skagit and San Juan) strongly, two narrowly (Island and Whatcom). He narrowly lost one: Snohomish (43.2% to 41.5%).

Then there’s this.

The most central of the several legislative districts in Snohomish is the 38th, which includes Everett and various points north and south of it. What happened there on Tuesday is also notable.

The Senate seat there is held by Jean Berkey, an Everett Democrat who ran afoul of several unions and other interests for her centrist votes in the last couple of sessions. Unwilling to go along, they backed an insurgent candidate from the left, Nick Harper, who also collected a batch of support from assorted liberal organizations. While Tea Party insurgencies in Washington largely faded out, this run from the left worked: Harper took 35.3% of the vote to Berkey’s 33.6%, meaning that those two Democrats will go on to November (shutting out the Conservative candidate Rod Rieger).

There are indications, especially in some of the suburban districts that Democrats won initially in the last few cycles, that Republicans likely will gain some pushback this year. But the results from Tuesday also show a more complex picture than just that.

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