The bipartisan Washington State Redistricting Commission released today what (with perhaps minor modifications) will be the final boundaries for our state's 10 congressional districts, and despite official praise from the state Democratic party, my initial reaction is that the Republicans came out on top.
Five districts lean Democratic, four Republican, and one—the newly rejiggered 1st CD—looks to be a 50-50 swing district. That pretty much sucks for Dems in a state that hasn't elected a Republican governor since 1980.
How'd this happen? Well it looks like the Democratic members of the commission fought for and won a dubiously useful "majority-minority district" in the 9th, and a specially drawn "Denny Heck district" in the new 10th, with Republicans getting most of what they wanted in exchange. Ah well... Democratic politicians have never been all that good at playing politics.
Of particular note:
7th and 9th CDs: In an effort to turn the 9th into that mythical "majority-minority" district, Southeast Seattle has been peeled away from the 7th, and joined with Bellevue, Mercer Island, Renton, Kent, Tukwila, Seatac, Federal Way, and a bit of Tacoma (which is also shared by the 6th and 10th). But of course since the largest minority group by far in the district will be white people, and few of the other minority groups have a lot in common, I'd wager 9th CD Rep. Adam Smith is feeling pretty good about his chances of retaining his seat.
As for Seattle's Rep. Jim McDermott, the 7th now stretches north to Edmonds. I doubt he's much worried about his prospects either.
1st CD: "Washington’s newly drawn 1st District is ugly but lovable," exclaims a state Dems press release: "Stretching from King County to Canada, the First will be a Democratic leaning district." But I'm not so sure.
The 1st reaches east to the Cascades, consuming all of Whatcom, Skagit, and Snohomish counties, except for the most populated (and Democratic) regions along the Puget Sound. It also grabs a big chunk of rural east King County. The result is that the highly contested seat Democrat Jay Inslee is vacating to run for governor is now in a district that's significantly more rural (i.e., Republican) than expected.
Most of the large field of already declared Democratic aspirants have found themselves drawn into the district, with the exception of state Rep. Marko Liias, whose
Mukilteo home is well inside the 2nd Edmonds home is well inside the 7th, and newcomer Andrew Hughes (who lives in Seattle), so I guess that's good news for them. But they also now share the district with Republican John Koster, who barely lost to incumbent Democratic Rep. Rick Larsen in 2010. So this will not be an easy race for the Democratic nominee.
2nd CD: Congratulations to Rep. Rick Larsen for being the big winner on this redistricting map. He barely won a tight race against Koster in 2010, but the new, smaller, more urban 2nd CD is much more Democratic.
8th CD: For the first time in forever, Rep. Dave Reichert won't be shitting bricks this election season, what with his district losing some of its most Democratic north King County precincts, and now crossing the Cascades to include all of Chelan and Kittitas counties. Safe Republican from here to eternity.
The new 10th CD: Or as we call it in the business, the "Denny Heck District," as its been drawn specifically to meet the needs of longtime Democratic pol (and Redistricting Commissioner Dean Foster's friend and neighbor), Denny Heck.
Why the Democratic establishment is so enamored of Heck—who failed to beat unpolished Republican Jaime Herrera in 2010 for an open seat in the old 3rd CD—I'll never know. But then, there's a lot I don't get about the Democratic establishment.
3rd CD: This southwest Washington district also crosses the cascades to subsume Klickitat County, while losing its Democratic precincts in and around Olympia to the newly created 10th. So the 3rd now officially moves from swing district to safe Republican for the foreseeable future.
Finally Tally: Republicans went from two safe-Republican and two lean-Republican seats to four safe-Republican seats, and a swing in the 1st. So it's hard to see how Democrats chalk this one up as a victory.