The November ballot in King County is long and fat as hell, as you likely know from personal experience. (If you have yet to catch a hand cramp from filling out all those bubbles with your favorite pink sparkly pen, then allow me kindly to suggest you grab your fucking ballot, pull up the SECB's cheat sheet, vote the way we tell you to, stuff the envelope and sign it, drop off your ballot in a nearby box, and then come back here.)
A lengthy ballot means lots to watch when the county drops results from about a million voters tonight. The future of police reform is on the ballot. Churchy homophobes repealing a bill designed to reduce sexual assaults and LGBTQ bashing is on the ballot. A more progressive State House, State Senate, and Congressional Delegation is on the ballot. Transit and earthquake-safe hospitals are on the ballot.
Below you'll find all the big local stuff The Stranger will be watching on election night, plus a few under-the-radar races we're curious about.
Charter Amendments 5 and 6
Aside from the pair of races concerning the state's comprehensive sexual health education law, I'm most nervous/concerned/curious about the results of King County Charter Amendments 5 and 6. If passed, Amendment 5 would make the Sheriff an appointed position rather than an elected one, and Amendment 6 would allow the County to reform the Sheriff's department.
The Sheriff's guild and other police unions dumped over $227,000 into the campaign to oppose both measures, while the campaign supporting the amendments hasn't even raised $7,000. And though the Crosscut/Elway poll from early October shows 54% support for "diverting funding away from police agencies and toward social services and community programs," I fear the unpopularity of the ongoing protests plus the pro-cop campaign may have eroded some of that support.
This is just a hunch, but I think people reflexively don't like to give up their power to vote on something, even though making the Sheriff's office an elected position was a scam devised by the Sheriff's guild and county Republicans desperate for a hot campaign issue in 1996. I'll write more about this in a post for tomorrow, but that team of blowhards pushed the amendment without going through the charter review process so Sheriffs could insulate their cops against budget cuts and to slow-walk reform, and also so Republicans could run on fear.
Because two Q-curious ignoramuses top the GOP ticket this cycle, State Republicans used this referendum to give the state's churchy homophobes a reason to return their ballots in November. Opponents raised nearly $460,000 to repeal the legislation, which was designed to ensure every student in Washington learned scientifically accurate information about human development and psychologically sound information about not raping people or ostracizing them for being gay. The campaign to approve the measure tripled that number, but, as I mentioned last month, gay marriage advocates raised 4.5 times the money the bigots raised in 2012, and love only won by seven points. Plus, confused or religious or chaotic Democrats are out here casting ballots for a mendacious, conservative Superintendent of Public Instruction, so anything seems possible.
The Props 1
King County Proposition 1 needs to grab 60% of the vote share or else Harborview will probably crumble during an earthquake and will continue stashing patients in the hallway for hours in the meantime. Meanwhile, Seattle's Proposition 1 needs only a simple majority to maintain an approximation of the speedy bus service we enjoy when a respiratory virus isn't upending the transit system. It'll be worth taking a quick peek shortly after the ballot drop to see if these two measures are on track for success before addressing the panic rising from your belly regarding the state executive races.
The overarching question here is: will the Democrats occupy every seat in the executive branch?
• I was relieved to see some mailers for incumbent Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal appear in my mailbox over the weekend, but his relatively poor showing in the primaries and the willingness of people in fucking King County to buy Maia Espinoza's bullshit makes me think she might pull this one off. The money was pretty close until the teachers union (and a few other unions) dropped over half a million to support Reykdal, but we'll see if that cash infusion can beat Espinoza's misinformation campaign.
• If Democratic Rep. Gael Tarleton significantly leads incumbent Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman despite the national media increasing Wyman's profile by dubiously embracing her as an example of a "reasonable" Republican, Democrats will be so gagged they will be physically unable to provide comment for hours after the ballot drop.
• Rep. Mike Pellicciotti weirdly rolled incumbent Republican Treasurer Duane Davidson in the primary, and so if it's looking good for Reykdal and Tarleton, seeing Pellicciotti on track to complete a clean Democratic sweep of the executive offices will add a nice little confidence boost in the middle of a long night.
• The contest for Lieutenant Governor, which pits State Sen. Marko Liias against the eternally retiring politician Denny Heck, became less interesting to me after State Sen. Steve Hobbs dropped out to deliver soup for peoples' families, but my interest piqued again after Inslee appeared on Biden's list of potential cabinet members. Heck said he won't run for Gov if Inslee takes the offer, but if I had a nickel for every time Heck promised he wouldn't run for something and then ended up running for that thing, then I'd have two nickels, but emotionally I'd have approximately $700,000 worth of nickels, which is how much more money Heck has raised compared to Liias. That means there is a non-zero chance Heck could be the presumed incumbent in a possible 2021 governor's race, which doesn't sound great given his record on cops and his unwillingness to fight for renter protections. I have every confidence that Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz and/or Bob Ferguson would quickly become the favorites in such a race anyway, but I just don't need that kind of stress in my life.
I expect the Congressional results to disappoint me, but the question is how badly and in what way.
• According to the latest ratings from The Cook Political Report, Washington's 3rd Congressional District still "Leans Republican," which makes me think that two-time Democratic challenger Carolyn Long will lose to incumbent Republican Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler by about five points again, but recent polls suggest it could be a tight race this year, so maybe high turnout will finally push Long over the edge.
• The fact that Rep. Kim Schrier didn't crack 50% of the vote in the primary triggered some concern within me a while ago, but The Cook Political Report now rates the race "Likely Democratic." Lots of interest (and $$$) in the State Senate race between incumbent DINO and former bank executive Mark Mullet and challenger Ingrid Anderson will increase Democratic turnout, plus Schrier raised way more money than her Republican challenger, Jesse whoeverthefuck, so she should be fyyyyyne. But it's certainly worth a worried glance.
• Despite Strickland's five-point lead in the August primary, the money in Washington's 10th Congressional District suggests a close race between former Tacoma Mayor / former Seattle Chamber of Commerce CEO Marilyn Strickland and State Rep. Beth Doglio. It'll be interesting to see whether the people of the 10th send a progressive or a business-friendly moderate to D.C.
Democrats will most likely retain their majorities in the State House and the Senate, but the question is what those majorities look like and how progressive those majorities will be.
• Will Anderson boot Mullet from the State Senate in the 5th Legislative District and thus remove a major barrier to modest climate policy and progressive taxation?
• Will democratic challenger T'wina Nobles beat Republican State Sen. Steve O'Ban and flip Pierce County's 28th Legislative District?
• Will Black people finally see proportional representation in the Legislature?
Aside from Nobles, Rep. Debra Entenman in the 47th LD, Kirsten Harris-Talley in the 37th LD, and Jamila Taylor in the 30th LD all led their primary races. Ditto Reps. Jesse Johnson in the 30th LD and John Lovick in the 44th LD, plus David Hackney down in the 11th LD. Up in the 44th LD, April Berg is in a good position to win her race.
Washington state is 4.4% Black, but the Legislature is only 2.7% Black. If these candidates hold on to their leads through the general, Black representation will rise to 5.4% in Olympia.
Joy Stanford (26th LD), Sherae Lascelles (43rd LD), and Tanisha Harris (17th LD) trailed their competitors during the primary, but they might pull out upsets this week.
• I already mentioned the Seattle-area State House races in the 43rd, the 37th, and the 11th, and so I'd be remiss if I didn't say we'll also be watching the battle for the Ballard-area in the 36th LD. Will Sarah Reyneveld's negative campaign close the considerable gap Liz Berry established in the primary? And just to continue writing sentences with questions in them—will Lascelles upset a longtime giant of the State House? Will Hackney do the same against Rep. Zack Hudgins? Will KHT beat a DJ on the dance floor?????? We'll sort of know a little bit more tonight, though of course we won't really be able to say too much for sure until Friday!!!
Shout Out to Pierce County Council District No. 6
Democratic Pierce County Council candidate Jani Hitchen led Republican Jason Whalen by a little over a point in the August primary. If Hitchen pulls this one out of the hat and the other Democrats maintain their leads, then the Pierce County Council could flip blue, which would mean that Democrats would run King, Snohomish, and Pierce Counties, which may be good news for Sound Transit and also the future of sanity in the Puget Sound region.