Wow, how about last night, everybody?? Potential progressive upsets! Potential flipped seats on both sides of the aisle in the statehouse! That joy in the 37th. That shade in the 36th. That babka on 14th. That blue-and-pink leopard onesie in the 43rd!
There's plenty to think through, but here are the seven basic things you need to know.
People Might Like $30 Car Tabs, but They Don’t Like Tim Eyman
Jay Inslee is leading the governor’s race with a sexy 52% of the votes, and the second slot in the general election will likely be snatched up by Loren Culp, the police chief who doesn’t want to enforce gun control laws and who allegedly botched a child sexual-abuse investigation. But you know who that joker beat out? Tim Eyman. The car-tab tax troll barely cleared 7% last night, coming in at fourth place with 88,177 votes. Oof. Embarrassing. We’ll see you out, Tim. Or, we’ll see you next time you file for bankruptcy.
Last week Tim Eyman, best known in Washington state for his anti-tax initiatives, was charged with misdemeanor theft for allegedly stealing a chair from Office Depot #KUOWwir pic.twitter.com/g1GfuXMYXz
— KUOW Public Radio (@KUOW) February 22, 2019
The Fight to Lead Washington Public Schools Comes Down to Sex Ed
The non-partisan race for Superintendent of Public Instruction has pretty much boiled down to an ideological battle. The center of the debate? Comprehensive sex education.
Incumbent Chris Reykdal, who has been steering Washington schools through an onslaught of issues (remote learning, gaps in technological access, confronting racism), secured 40% in the first drop last night. That's not great.
I am very grateful to supporters statewide that delivered a big top two finish for us tonight (40%+). We beat our closest opponent by 16 percentage points, but that means nothing! General Elections are about 50% +1 and we have work to do. Thank you and let's go! On to November!
— Chris Reykdal (@chrisreykdal) August 5, 2020
Reykdal’s competition is Maia Espinoza (she got 24%) and Ron Higgins (20%). Both are critical of the sex ed bill, which was requested by Reykdal. That bill passed earlier this year after lots of very weird resistance from Republicans. Espinoza is a small-business owner who alleged in a lawsuit that Reykdal basically supported teaching 4th graders sex positions. He doesn't, and she lost that lawsuit. Espinoza also makes frequent appearances in a press release mill called the "Suburban Times." Higgins is a substitute teacher.
While it doesn’t seem like Reykdal should have anything to worry about—and his lead may grow as more progressive, late ballots get counted—the superintendent race was crowded, and the votes against him were split. If his opponents have received this much traction already, they could give Reykdal a run for his money in November, especially given the Republican plan to use a referendum on the sex ed bill to drive up turnout.
Republicans Maintain Hold on the Secretary of State Office
The Secretary of State race between Republican incumbent Kim Wyman and Democrat challenger Gael Tarleton is kinda tight. Wyman has 50.2% of the vote share, and Tarleton has 45%. Tarleton may narrow this gap by the end of the week, and then we'll really have a showdown. But Republicans have dominated this seat for decades. Good ol' Vic Meyers, a man who was born in fucking 1898, was the last Democratic Secretary of State in Washington. Ever since Meyers's tenure ended in 1965, it's been a one-party office. And currently, it's looking like Democrats just cannot edge their way into the seat.
Black Democrats Cleaned Up
If you are a Black Democratic candidate, you are likely either winning your race or at least making it through to the general election.
Incumbent Democratic Reps. Jesse Johnson, Debra Entenman, and John Lovick are holding strong in their districts. Meanwhile, T’wina Nobles's two-point lead sets her up to flip a Pierce County Senate seat for the Democrats (which will be tough, but clearly doable), and David Hackney's near 6-point lead positions him to upset moderate Dem Zack Hudgins in his south Seattle race.
Kirsten Harris-Talley in the 37th LD and Jamila Taylor in the 30th LD are comfortably leading their races, and April Berg is in a good position to win her race up in the 44th LD.
And while Joy Stanford, Sherae Lascelles, and Tanisha Harris are trailing their competitors, they'll have a chance to overcome in the general.
We got 50%!!
I am humbled and grateful for the outpouring of support from our community. From the campaign launch to every virtual house party, I have been struck over and over again by people’s generosity and willingness to jump into the fight for equity and justice. 1/ pic.twitter.com/1Ailuine3G
— Kirsten Harris-Talley (@ElectKHT) August 5, 2020
Right now Black Washingtonians are underrepresented in the legislature. According to the U.S. Census, Washington state is 4.4% Black. And yet, for reasons that are completely opaque and impossible to understand, the state's legislature is only 2% Black. If the current vote shares hold through November, Black representation will rise to 5.4% in Olympia.
Lots of Moving Pieces, but the Game Largely Remains the Same in Olympia
The possibility of finally achieving equitable Black representation in the statehouse aside, the Democrats are on track to reduce their 16-seat majority in the State House by one, and to increase their 5-seat majority in the State Senate by one. (Unless, of course, the Democratic establishment at the Washington Senate Democratic Campaign ends up wasting a bunch of money to defend losing Sen. Mark Mullet's seat in the 5th LD against another Democrat at the expense of expanding in the 28th and the 10th.) At the executive level, they might gain a Democratic State Treasurer in Mike Pellicciotti, but it's looking like Reykdal is in a little trouble, and that Republicans will retain their stranglehold on the Secretary of State's office. So, overall, there's a lot of movement but not tons of power-shifting going on at the moment.
Over at the Seattle Times, Danny Westneat is arguing that last night's results suggest that "the blue parts of the state are getting strongly bluer, and the red parts redder," given the prospect of Republican gains in the southwestern and northwestern parts of the state and the prospect of Democratic/progressive gains in King County. That feels true, especially when you consider that the so-called "moderate" Republicans aren't placing in the Governor and Attorney General races, either. That said, Democrat Tanisha Harris is only running a couple points behind Republican Vicki Kraft in southwest Washington, and Democrat Carrie Hesch could beat batshit Republican Rep. Jesse Young in Kitsap County if she scoops up all the Democratic votes out there. So the regional read isn't that neat. And since it looks like Democrats will maintain their power in Olympia, this "polarization" may only push Democrats to actually use their majorities rather than just try to grow them a little at the moderate margins.
Another Sad Showing for Progressive Congressional Candidates
Oy. Oy oy oy. Medicare for All supporters with bold, flashy websites ran in the 2nd (Jason Call), the 5th (Chris Armitage), the 6th (Rebecca Parson), and the 10th (Joshua Collins and Rep. Beth Doglio).
Only Doglio, whose campaign benefited from progressive PAC money and endorsements from Sen. Bernie Sanders and Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, appears primed to make it through to the general.
Call is 2,000 votes behind Republican Timothy Hazelo, so he might eke out a distant second place finish behind Democratic U.S. House Rep. Rick Larsen. Rebecca Parson is running way behind Republican Elizabeth Kreiselmaier, who is running way behind Democratic incumbent Congressman Derek Kilmer in the 6th. Armitage dropped out of the race in the 5th CD late last month citing "declining mental health and allegations from a woman with whom he’d had a relationship," according to the Spokesman-Review, which leaves moderate Dem Dave Wilson trailing Republican Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers by a mile. Outside of Seattle, it seems Washingtonians love bland corporate Democrats with bad ideas.
You Can't Win a Congressional Race on TikTok at the Moment
The real reason they're trying to ban TikTok is because young people are organizing political movements on it.
— Joshua 4 Congress (@Joshua4Congress) August 3, 2020
Of course, the saddest progressive showing of all came courtesy of Joshua Collins. The 26-year-old socialist trucker raised $250,000, mainly from his large social media following on Twitter and TikTok. All that money and all those apocalyptic tweets so far have netted him less than 1% of the vote in the Olympia-area's 10th Congressional District. Right now he's behind perennial candidate Richard Boyce, who's literally running on the "Congress Sucks Party," which seems about as made-up as Collins's "Essential Workers Party." Collins's failure is all the more notable given that retiring Congressman Denny Heck mentioned his campaign as one of the reasons he announced his "retirement" from 40 years of public service late last year. In his departing letter, Heck essentially subtweeted Collins, saying, "Success seems to be measured by how many Twitter followers one has which are largely gained by saying increasingly outrageous things, the more personal the better." So much for Heck's read on his district's definitions of "success."