Writings and observations

The Puget Sound Business Journal lists in its new edition the largest employers in Washington state, and has put the top five on line. They’re worth a look.

The largest, at number one, is an employer which has tended to get more headlines in the last couple of decades for departures and scaledowns – Boeing. It may no longer be based at the Puget Sound, but it is much the largest employer in the state, employing about 82,000 people, more than twice as many as the next largest private employer, which is Microsoft.

The gap in next-largest businesses in the state after those two is, well, large.

Also worth noting: Three of the top five are not private organizations – businesses – at all. The second-largest is the Joint Base Lewis-McChord; third is the Navy Region Northwest (mainly in Kitsap County); and fifth is the University of Washington.

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The Seattle Times has a perspective piece on the Washington state drought of Republican governors, none elected since 1980 – the longest such unbroken stretch in the country. The longest stretch on that side of the fence, that, is; the longest run either party has had for the office in any state has been the string of Republican governors in South Dakota extending back to 1974.

“Fundamentally, the Republican problem has been that the electorate, particularly in Seattle and King County, has grown increasingly Democratic,” the piece said.

The hook, of course, is this year’s close governor’s race, in which Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna is trying to snap the string. It is a close race, and McKenna might do it; but then, there have been close races before, notably in 1992 and (famously) 2004.

The other point is that the Washington Democratic string is longer than the other Northwestern states – which also have extended runs of one-party win – but not by all that much. Oregon’s is only two years shorter, dating to the 1982 win by Republican Vic Atiyah. Idaho’s is actually shorter than those, going back just to 1990 with a win by Democrat Cecil Andrus, but none of the Republican wins in Idaho since then have been close.

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