It was a big night for Democrats across Washington, though at least one race remains too close to call. Here are a few takeaways from Tuesday’s primary election:
WE CAN’T SAY FOR SURE WHO’LL FACE DINO ROSSI IN THE 8TH
The only thing we really know for sure about the race in Washington’s 8th District is that Republican Dino Rossi will be one of the two candidates heading into the general election in November.
Rossi pulled in 43 percent of the vote. If you add the other Republican and Republican-ish candidates, that brings his total to just shy of 48. Collectively, the Democrats pulled in 50 percent of the votes. (Side note: who were the 949 people that voted for Tom Cramer? Show yourselves in the comments.) Rossi didn’t crack 50, and that’s not bad news for the Democrats.
“I think you’ve seen the ceiling for Rossi,” says Washington State Democratic Party Chair, Tina Podlodowski. “The Dems collectively have more than 50 percent of the votes. I’m feeling pretty happy.”
That said, there are still thousands of votes left to be counted in this district, and so some of this math might change.
For now, pediatrician Kim Schrier is leading attorney Jason Rittereiser by 1,369 votes. She sounds hopeful in her statements last night, he sounds grateful and pumped to still be in the running. We’ll see how it plays out over the next few days. But in general, it seems like this toss-up race is going to stay a toss-up. RICH SMITH
HOLY FUCK, LISA BROWN
Eastern Washington is going to see one of the state’s most exciting races this fall and it could knock Cathy McMorris Rodgers—the fourth highest-ranking Republican in the U.S. House—out of office.
Democrat Lisa Brown, who previously worked as a state legislator and chancellor of Washington State University Spokane, was neck-and-neck with McMorris Rodgers in the first returns. McMorris Rodgers has about 47.5 percent of the vote. Brown has about 47 percent. They are separated by just 525 votes. The two will face off in November and the race is sure to attract national attention and money between now and then.
“Looks to me like over 50 percent of people in the district are ready for a change,” Brown told The Stranger over the phone Tuesday night. Brown said her campaign has attracted more than 1,000 volunteers and 10,000 donors. “They feel Congress has become completely dysfunctional with Congressional gridlock and dark money.” Brown says her campaign plans to focus on turning out college students this fall.
While Tuesday’s results are big for Democrats, Caleb Heimlich, chairman of the state Republican Party, tried to play them off Tuesday night. If you combine McMorris Rodgers’ support with the other, lesser known Republicans in the race, Republicans together took just over 50 percent of the vote, Heimlich said Tuesday at the party headquarters in Bellevue.
The response from Tina Podlodowski, chair of the Washington State Democrats, goes back to those college kids Brown is counting on. The 5th District includes private and public colleges that span the political spectrum, including Washington State University, Eastern Washington University, Whitworth University, Whitman College, and Gonzaga University. “That’s where Caleb Heimlich’s math didn’t add up,” Podlodowski said. “The electorate gets a lot younger in November when 60,000 college students flood in.” HEIDI GROOVER
HOLY FUCK, CAROLYN LONG
Carolyn Long’s internal polls were kinda right! The first-time Democratic candidate trails four-term incumbent Jamie Herrera Beutler by 4.5 points in the race for Washington’s 3rd Congressional District, 36.6 to 41.
The two other candidates running as Democrats—Justice Democrat Dorothy Gasque and David McDevitt—pulled in 4.6 points and 8.1 points, respectively. If you add their votes to Long’s total, she’d be sitting at 49.3 percent. If you do the same math for Beutler, she edges Long out with 49.7 percent. That’s pretty close for a race that the non-partisan Cook Political Report scored as “likely Republican,” and for a district that Trump won by 8 points.
“Forty percent is a pathetic showing for an incumbent,” says Washington State Democratic Party chair Tina Podlodowski, refusing to round up for Herrera Beutler.
“Beutler should be worried,” says Long’s spokesperson. “Long feels great and we are looking forward to the next stage of this election.”
But Washington GOP Chair Caleb Heimlich sees the race differently. “If you go back to the 2016 primaries she added 6 points to her total from her August total to her November total. So I think we’re going to be in good shape,” he said.
If Herrera Beutler starts spending her considerable pile of money on attack ads and other media, we’ll know she’s concerned. But until then one thing’s for sure: we got us a race down there in Southwest Washington. RICH SMITH
HOLY FUCK, SARAH SMITH
But not in the same way! Sarah Smith is no Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and it showed in her numbers Tuesday night.
In the first drop of ballots, it's not even clear Sarah Smith made it through the primary to face 11-term incumbent Democrat Adam Smith. As it stands, Republican Doug Basler is in second place with about 26.6 percent of the vote. Adam Smith is out front with 50.3 and Sarah Smith trails with 23.15.
Fewer than 3,000 votes separate Sarah Smith from Basler and there are more ballots to be counted, so it's not over. "This is all completely expected by our campaign,” Smith told supporters in a video message Tuesday night. “We totally knew it was going to play out this way." But it's not the showing Sarah Smith needed to prove voters in the district are as tired of Adam Smith as she is. HEIDI GROOVER
HOLY FUCK, HOLY IS LOSING IN THE 6TH LD
Democrat Jessa Lewis appears to be winning her race against anti-gay Republican Jeff Holy to represent the Spokane area in the State Senate. That’s no thanks to SEIU 1199, who tossed Holy 500 bucks in the primary for his support of nurses getting breaks at work. Hey, union, guess what? Jessa Lewis is pro nurses-getting-breaks, too! She’s also pro-choice, pro-worker, and pro-universal healthcare. Unlike Jeff Holy! Jesus!
And Holy’s not the only Republican incumbent who’s losing. The Seattle Times reports at least 11 Republican House members are behind their Democratic challengers.
While Democrats have for the past few years held only slim majorities in Olympia, the state Democratic Party vowed this year to fight for seats long held by Republicans. In these first results from Tuesday’s primary, that strategy appears to be paying off.
The party is now “running in every race in every place,” said Washington State Democrats Chair Tina Podlodowski. “We’re also talking about two things quite a bit: jobs and healthcare… We should find a way to get universal healthcare covered—I think we have an opportunity to do that in Washington State with a serious Democratic majority.”
Several Democrats, mostly those running in safe Democratic seats, have promised to champion single payer healthcare next session.
Meanwhile, Democrats could also be competitive in several state senate races where the seats are currently held by Republicans but those Republicans won less than 50 percent of the vote. In Federal Way's 30th District, Republican Senator Mark Miloscia currently has 48.4 percent. Democrat Claire Wilson will make it through the primary to face Miloscia. In the 42nd District, including Ferndale north of Bellingham, Republican state Senator Doug Ericksen—who flirted with joining the Trump Administration—currently has 45.8 percent of the vote.
One last note here: Voters in the Tacoma area appear to be booting out incumbent state Representative David Sawyer, a Democrat who faces allegations of inappropriate behavior toward young women in Olympia. Eight women told The News Tribune, The Olympian, and the Northwest News Network that Sawyer repeatedly or inappropriately texted them or made comments about their bodies or clothing. Sawyer described his actions as friendly and denied that his behavior was inappropriate. In June, the legislature released the findings of an investigation by an outside lawyer who found Sawyer acted inappropriately and used state resources on personal business. Progressive organizations and the women who accused Sawyer of inappropriate behavior have called on him not to seek reelection. In Tuesday night’s returns, Sawyer was trailing in third place behind Democrat Melanie Morgan and Republican Terry Harder. If those results hold, he won’t make it to the general election. RICH SMITH AND HEIDI GROOVER
A CLOSE #WALEG RACE IN WEST SEATTLE
The only real legislative contest in Seattle proper this year is this open state senate seat in the 34th District, which covers West Seattle. Democrats Shannon Braddock and Joe Nguyen will make it through the primary and they are ridiculously close.
Nguyen leads by just 199 votes. That sets up a close contest for the next few months—and one that could get expensive. In the primary alone, Braddock raised about $88,900 to Nguyen’s $41,200.
Braddock is deputy chief of staff for King County Executive Dow Constantine. She is also on the board of Westside Baby, a nonprofit that serves low-income mothers. Nguyen is a Microsoft manager who is on the board of a housing nonprofit.
While the two agree broadly on progressive causes like a capital gains tax, Braddock will likely be cast as the establishment candidate. In her 2015 race for city council, she received support from the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. In an interview with the Stranger Election Control Board, she was skeptical of Seattle’s recently passed (then abandoned) head tax on large businesses. Nguyen supported the tax.
Even Nguyen seemed surprised by Tuesday’s results. “I thought we were going to get second place but what?” he said. “We are not fucking around.” HEIDI GROOVER