General election night 2018 was wild. We don't exactly know how we feel. There were high profile disappointments—the carbon fee, the soda tax, the resilience of Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers in eastern Washington, the fucking horrible string of Matts that continue to hold sway in our state legislature. But there were also some major victories or near-victories that are worth celebrating and thinking more deeply about.
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Democrats Took Back the U.S. House, Baby!
Women led the way. More than 100 of them are headed to Congress, including the first two Native American women, the first two Muslim women, and the first black woman to represent Massachusetts. And though they didn’t win the Senate or some of the high profile gubernatorial races they wanted to win due to good old-fashioned American racism, Democrats now control the House by a substantial margin. They’ve got subpoena power. They’ve got hold of the legislative agenda. They’ve got the purse strings. and they’ve left plenty of room for improvement, which might keep the fires burning for newly activated volunteers hoping to finish the job in 2020. RICH SMITH
Kim Schrier Is Probably Going to Win
Since its birth in 1983, the people of Washington’s 8th Congressional District have not sent a Democrat to Congress. Since it was redrawn to ensure Republican rule, retiring Congressman Dave Reichert won his races there by 20 points. All that looks like it will change with the surprising—even to her own team—showing from Kim Schrier on election night. With 197,000 ballots counted, the pediatrician from Sammamish is leading Republican Dino Rossi by 6 points. That’s 12,000 votes. I guess that poll—that one fucking poll—was wrong.
Schrier's campaign certainly seems confident. “There is almost no way for Rossi to make up this gap,” said Schrier spokesperson Katie Rodihan. “I saw his speech, and it sounds like he gave a non-concession concession speech, and Kim gave a non-acceptance acceptance speech, so here we are,” she added.
A number of factors are contributing to Schrier’s success here. She’s a woman in health care during a year when support for women candidates surged among Democrats and health care was the number one topic. There’s also the money. Outside groups spent over $10 million on behalf of Schrier, and at nearly $7 million, Schrier raised far more than any other Congressional candidate in the history of the state. Grassroots organizing efforts deserve props, too. Chris Petzold, a member of Washington Indivisible 8, said last weekend she and members from Swing Left took a bus full of supporters to knock 4,000 doors in Bonney Lake. That kinda thing really helps.
There’s also the fact that Dino Rossi is an anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-immigrant Trumpian shitlord who repeatedly misled voters about his record, and who hid from people who didn’t agree with him just like Reichert did. As of today, at least, the people of the 8th District are smart enough to see all that despite his blinding, 1,000-watt smile. The fact that he’s probably staring at his fourth loss in a district he won by 10 points each time he ran for statewide office should bruise his ego enough to banish him from politics forever. RICH SMITH
Spokane Is Still Unfortunately Republican
Those of us living in the liberal bubble of Capitol Hill were optimistic about the chances of Washington’s second largest city driving a progressive dagger into the heart of Eastern Washington in Tuesday’s midterm election.
This August’s primary showed some positive results for progressives. Democrat Dave Wilson won the primary for an open House seat in the 6th legislative district, just East of Spokane. Democrat Kay Murano came within 800 votes of incumbent Republican Mike Volz during the primary for the other House seat in the 6th. And longtime Spokane Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers failed to win a 50 percent majority in the primary, while her Democrat challenger Lisa Brown came within 4 percentage points.
Last night’s election showed our hopes were misplaced. McMorris Rodgers is going back to Washington with a commanding 55.9 percent of the votes, as of Tuesday night. Incumbent Republican Volz had 53.25 percent of votes Tuesday night and appears to be heading back to Olympia. And Dave Wilson was trailing his Republican challenger Jenny Graham, although that race is only separated by about 200 votes.
Tina Podlodowski, chair of the Washington State Democratic Party, said it was going to take multiple elections to get Democrats back in power in the area after decades of Republican control.
“It just shows we still have a ways to go in Eastern Washington. You don’t not do anything for a decade out there and turn it around in only one year. Now we know what we need to do in 2020,” Podlodowski said.
The party chair said the most disheartening results in Eastern Washington was the reelection of Matt Shea, an extreme right-wing state legislator that published a manifesto that called for a “Holy Army” to declare war on the left. The local sheriff alerted the FBI to Shea’s manifesto because it was consistent with white supremacist ideologies.
“I think the toughest one for me in that district was in the 4th: Ted Cummings losing to Matt Shea. If the Rolling Stone article had come out a few weeks earlier, we could have utilized that more effectively than we had a chance to,” Podlodowski said. "It’s really hard to swallow a white supremacist like Matt Shea getting re-elected." LESTER BLACK
Long Looks Gone But Not Forgotten
The last-ditch effort from the National Republican Congressional Committee to save three-term Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler looks like it paid off. With 221,270 votes counted and over 70,000 remaining, Herrera Beutler leads by 10,000 votes.
Judging by the level of excitement Democrat Carolyn Long was able to stir up in the electorate down there in Southwest Washington, something in me thought the hardworking Washington State University political science professor might usurp an incumbent who hasn’t had to work hard for her 20-point wins since her district was re-drawn to benefit Republicans. And there’s still a possibility she could, but it’s slim. Democratic Party Chair Tina Podlodowski says it’ll all come down to the returns in Clark County, and says they should know after the ballot drop tomorrow whether Long really has a shot.
But it’s worth noting that the Democrats haven’t seriously challenged Herrera Beutler since her district was redrawn and that Long managed to pull within 4.5 points of the Congresswoman in a district Trump won by 7 points.
Long’s team sounds defeated but proud of what they’ve accomplished over the last year. “There’s been record level turnout in the midterm elections, and it’s incredible that the movement we’ve built here will lay a foundation in southwest Washington for years to come,” said Will Casey, Long’s spokesperson. “Regardless of the outcome, we now know the people of this district will not tolerate their health care being taken away, their earned benefits being cut, or their medicine costs skyrocket well past any modest gains they’re seeing from the tax cuts.” RICH SMITH
Republicans Are Fading From King County
Republican state legislators were largely driven out of King County last night, with multiple incumbent GOP legislators losing their races. With the exception of two districts that sit partially on the eastern edge of the county, there might not be a single Republican legislator left.
In Federal Way, Claire Wilson posted a healthy 53.13 percent lead over incumbent Republican Senator Mark Miloscia in the 30th Legislative District. Mike Pellicciotti got a 60 percent slam dunk over Republican Linda Kochmar, who had previously represented the 30th in the House before Pellicciotti won in 2016.
Out in Issaquah’s 5th district, both Republican incumbent Representatives are losing to Democratic challengers. Democrat Bill Ramos has a 52.48 percent lead over incumbent Republican Rep. Chad Magendanz. And Democrat Lisa Callan has a 53.12 percent lead over Republican Paul Graves.
Down in Auburn’s 47th Legislative District, incumbent Republican Mark Hargrove has only 47.6 percent of the vote to Democrat Debra Entenmann's 52.4 percent. If Joe Fain can hold onto his seat in the 47th, which appears unsure with only 200 votes separating him from challenger Mona Das, he will be one of the only Republican legislators left in the county.
The only other Republicans to clear the 50 percent vote threshold in legislative races in the county are in either the 31st or the 39th legislative districts. Those two districts only partially include King County and are in the largely rural Eastern areas of the county.
The shift in King County towards the Democrats comes as the party takes over more seats in Olympia. Crosscut reported last night that the Democrats will increase their majority in the House by at least three, bringing it to a five-seat majority minimum, and the Democratic majority in the Senate will go up to at least a four-vote majority. LESTER BLACK
Corporations Are More Powerful Than People, My Friend
If you want to look at the impact of big corporate money in politics then you should look no further than the results for the carbon fee initiative and the anti-soda tax initiative. Both of these initiatives saw record-breaking corporate spending and, in both instances, the corporate money won.
Initiative 1631, which would have created a statewide fee on carbon emissions and increased investment in renewable energy, received only 43.68 percent of the vote as of last night, meaning it almost surely will not pass. That means we won’t be charging for carbon anytime soon and the big petroleum companies that spent a record-breaking $31.5 million opposing the carbon fee will not be paying for destroying our planet.
The anti-soda tax measure was dealt a similar fate. Initiative 1634, which bans local governments from taxing sodas (and other grocery items but this measure is really aimed at sodas) received 54.78 percent of the vote as of Tuesday night. Soda companies spent over $20 million on this initiative to make sure that other parts of Washington can’t copy Seattle’s recent soda tax. The opponents of the soda tax ban raised only $33,000, as of the latest filings. Now that this ballot measure will become law, no municipalities will be able to charge a tax on soda. Interestingly, an identical measure put forth by the big soda companies in Oregon appears to be failing.
With corporate control over this initiative process, it’s hard to see why we call these measures citizen initiatives. LESTER BLACK
Joe Nguyen Fucking Wins
Joe Nguyen’s Senate race out in West Seattle was the one place where big money did not dictate the winner. Nguyen won with a commanding 57.33 percent of the votes, as of Tuesday night, despite having the benefit of only a quarter of the money as compared to his opponent, Shannon Braddock.
Braddock raised over $190,000 in donations and had the benefit of outside PACs spending another $139,000 in her favor. Nguyen raised only $88,000 and received no help from outside PACs, meaning Braddock had about $330,000 in support to Nguyen’s $88,000. Nguyen, reached late Tuesday night, said his election showed the power of community activism.
“All of these people that think you need to have certain experience with the establishment and money from all of those corporate PACs, fuck them that’s all bullshit,” Nguyen said. “If you put people first and the community first, that’s how you are going to win an election.”
Nguyen, who was raised in the district he will now represent in the Senate, will be
the only one of two Vietnamese people in the state legislature next year. LESTER BLACK
Morally Dubious Republican Men Are Leading in the Legislature
Groan. State Rep. Matt Manweller, a former political science professor at Central Washington University who was accused by multiple former students of sexual misconduct, will win back his seat. He says he’ll resign, though, but the party will just replace him with another Republican. The other Matt in the state legislature's Matt Caucus—Matt Shea, (R-Spokane Valley)—will also retain his seat, from which he can continue to fling racist, secessionist bullshit. And Joe Fain, the so-called moderate Republican running to keep his state Senate seat in the 47th Legislative District, is also leading despite being accused of rape in late September. Fain denies the charges and has called for an investigation, though one does not appear to be forthcoming. His Democratic opponent, Mona Das, does not seem to be completely out of this thing, though. She’s only down less than a point—274 votes—after trailing him by 8 points in the primary. After polls showed that the Kavanaugh hearings moved independent women toward the Republican party, I wouldn't have been surprised if Fain held on by much more than he's holding onto now. RICH SMITH