WA Legislative Opportunities in 2012

By Adam Alan Isackson

If you haven’t already heard the Washington State Republican Party has an ambitious new goal dubbed the 12 in ’12 program. Their goal is to pick up 12 state government seats in Washington State currently held by Democrats. In light of that goal I thought I would do a little research on our state’s individual races and present to you the 11 legislative races where I think we have the best opportunities to pick off Democrat seats. If Republicans pick up the governorship, 3 seats in the state senate and 8 in the state house, while holding onto the seats currently controlled, Republicans will control both branches of the legislature and the governorship for the first time since the early 80s.

This might seem a lofty goal but Republicans have reason for optimism. Even if Republicans come up a little short in their quest to take the state house or senate there’s also always the possibility that one of more Democrats could be convinced to switch parties under a McKenna administration. In fact several Democrats have already expressed privately an interest in doing so under the right circumstances.

This of course is an early analysis; many candidates have yet to announce, we don’t yet know every incumbent who will retire, and of course the effect of redistricting isn’t yet crystal clear. I’ve taken the time to look over the redistricting numbers in a few key districts but further analysis will have to be done later.  

If you’re privy to more information than I am about a specific race I would love to hear from you.  I welcome your knowledge and discussion, especially if you think I’m unfairly ignoring or misjudging our chances. I’ve done my best to look at every race objectively but I’m sure I’ve missed more than a few critical details. This was a much bigger endeavor than I first anticipated. There are of course other races, which under the right circumstances could be up for grabs as well. In several months I would like to update this list, and make changes based on how some of these races continue to develop.

Lastly I would like to include a plea for you to generously support the candidates who are or who will soon be running for these seats. They need both your financial support and the gift of your time and talents. We all need to dig deeper than we ever have before. Even small donations add up and can make a big statement. Please take the time to share this article. My hope is that with a better understanding our time and effort can be better spent.

Thanks in advance for your support.  

Because only by working together can we do better.

Best,

Adam

 

The Republican Party’s three best opportunities for state senate pickups in 2012

25 th legislative district state senate race

Jim Kastama (D), 25 th district State Senator since 2001, is vacating the position to run for Secretary of State. This leaves a huge opening for State Representative Bruce Dammeier (R), who was reelected by a landslide in 2010. Democrat efforts would be much better spent on trying to take Dammeier’s open house seat, or trying to knock off 1 st term State Representative Hans Zeiger. Dammeier, first elected in 2008, is clearly a rising star in the Republican Party. He’s going to be tough to beat.

25 th District 2010 US Senate Results – Dino Rossi, 53.7% Patty Murray, 46.3%

10 th legislative district state senate race

Senator Mary Haugen (D) has served as a State Senator since 1993 and previously served in the State House from 1983-1992. In her reelection bid of ’08 she managed only a 7 point victory during a Democrat friendly year. This alone makes her vulnerable.  The two 10 th district state house seats are currently held by Republicans. State Representative Barbara Bailey (R) appears likely to run against Haugen and would pose a significant challenge for the Senator. It’s also worth mentioning that Haugen’s husband, a lobbyist, is facing sexual harassment charges filed by Haugen’s ’08 campaign manager. It remains to be seen how much this could damage her reelection efforts. This race should be a high priority for Republicans statewide.

10 th District 2010 US Senate Results – Dino Rossi, 52% Patty Murray, 48%

1 st Legislative district state senate race

Senator Rosemary McAuliffe (D) has served as the 1 st district state senator since 1993. This race is probably the Republican Party’s next best bet for a pickup opportunity in the state senate, though the Democrats certainly appear to have the advantage here. The district has shown signs of hope for Republicans. Republicans lost a couple close legislative races here in 2010 for open seats. Democrats have the advantage of having two new Democrat legislators, who could step up and run for the senate seat if McAuliffe retires. McAuliffe won reelection in 2008 by almost 16%, a pretty solid showing. The district leans a little left. Another Democrat, Jacob Bond, just filed with the PDC for the seat. A Republican has yet to declare. It’s worth mentioning that McAuliffe hasn’t declared any financial contributions yet which certainly leads to speculation that she may be planning to retire.

1 st District 2010 US Senate Results – Dino Rossi, 45.6% Patty Murray, 54.4%

The Republican Party’s eight best opportunities for state house or representative pickups in 2012

35 th Legislative district state house, position 1 race

State Representative Kathy Haigh (D) narrowly won reelection in 2010 by less than a 51-49 margin against her opponent Dan Griffey. The 35 th district used to be a reliably Democrat district but has moved quickly to the right in recent years. The rumor mill has been churning that Haigh is likely to retire. Whether Haigh decides to run again or not the 35 th district, position 1 race is probably the Republican Party’s best opportunity for a pickup in the state house. If Haigh runs she’s vulnerable because she has unapologetically bucked her constituents on several key issues. If Haigh retires, Democrats will have to defend two open seats in the district. The 35 th district’s other state Representative, Fred Finn (D), has already announced his retirement. Redistricting has also been good to Republicans in the 35 th . Under the new lines Haigh’s margin of victory would’ve been cut roughly in half. Dan Griffey is running again and Republicans would be wise to invest significant resources into his race.

35 th District 2010 US Senate Results – Dino Rossi, 51.5% Patty Murray, 48.5%

28 th Legislative district state house, position 2 race

State Representative Tami Green (D) was reelected by a 3% margin against Paul Wagemann in 2010. The 28 th district, as much as any district in the state, has a history of close races. The position 1 race was also decided by a narrow margin. Position 2 is particularly vulnerable because the incumbent, Tami Green, is widely seen as being significantly to the left of her constituents. The position 2 Republican primary, which was heated and decided by a narrow margin, was likely a factor in 2010. Wagemann is running again and would pose a significant challenge in a rematch against Green. The 28 th had to grow as much as any district in the state via redistricting and a lot of more rural precincts were added. Republicans have a great opportunity here.

28 th District 2010 US Senate Results – Dino Rossi, 48.5% Patty Murray, 51.5%

26 th Legislative district state house, position 2 race

State Representative Larry Seaquist (D), first elected in 2006, was reelected by a 4.3% margin against fire fighter battalion chief Doug Richards. The 26 th district is widely seen as a key swing district with both State Senator Derek Kilmer (D) and State Representative Jan Angel (R) being reelected by large margins in 2010. This race is almost certainly going to be a rematch. Doug Richards is already running and it’s a near certainty that Seaquist will seek another term. This is one race where the incumbent outspent their challenger by a large margin in 2010. If Richards runs a strong campaign and can close the money gap this race is certainly in play. Republicans have also made modest gains in the 26 th due to redistricting. The precincts added to the district are reliably conservative.

26 th District 2010 US Senate Results – Dino Rossi, 53.9% Patty Murray, 46.1%

35 th Legislative district state house, position 2 race

With the retirement of State Representative Fred Finn (D) you have an open seat in a district that could easily break either way. Four candidates are already running for the seat. The two Democrats are Jeff Davis, a port commissioner and Lynda Ring-Erickson a county commissioner. The Republican is Drew MacEwen, a president of an investment firm. An independent, Glen Gaither, is also running.  The Democrats so far have each outraised McEwen 2 to 1 so Republicans certainly need to kick things into high gear here. If Haigh retires one of the two Democrats will almost certainly move over to run for the position 1 seat.

35 th District 2010 US Senate Results – Dino Rossi, 51.5% Patty Murray, 48.5%

45 th Legislative district state house, position 1 race

State Representative Roger Goodman, who won reelection by a narrow 2.66 points margin over Republican challenger Kevin Hastings, is running for congress in the 1 st district. The field however will be extremely crowded and Goodman is certainly not the early Democrat front runner. Goodman has yet to announce his intentions when it comes to his state house seat. All the unknowns aside, Hastings could clearly run another credible campaign, even if Goodman doesn’t vacate his seat.

45 th District 2010 US Senate Results – Dino Rossi, 47.5% Patty Murray, 52.5%

44 th Legislative district state house, position 1 race

Hans Dunshee was narrowly reelected in 2010 with just over 52% of the vote despite running against a Republican opponent who didn’t run a serious campaign. Republicans lost a big opportunity here in 2010 considering the demographics of the district. State Representative Mike Hope (R) won reelection to the position 2 seat by a landslide. If Republicans can field a serious candidate this time around this seat should be in play.

44 th District 2010 US Senate Results – Dino Rossi, 52% Patty Murray, 48%

1 st Legislative district state house, position 2 race

Both of the 1 st district state house races were open seats in 2010 and both of the Democrat candidates won narrow victories. Now State Representative Luis Moscoso (D) won the closer of the two races by less than a 51-49 point margin over Republican Heidi Munson. The position 1 race Republican, who ran a minimalist campaign, lost by a 6.4% margin. Position 2 would probably be the better bet considering Moscoso’s background and slower fundraising numbers. Picking up the seat though will not be easy. The district is left leaning and Republicans are going to want to run their strongest candidate against Senator McAuliffe. A Republican has yet to announce for this seat.

1 st District 2010 US Senate Results – Dino Rossi, 45.6% Patty Murray, 54.4%

17 th Legislative district state house, position 1 race

The 17 th is a Republican leaning district represented by two Republicans; State Senator Don Benton and State Representative Paul Harris and one Democrat, State Representative Tim Probst. Probst, who was first elected in 2008, won reelection by 6.36% over Republican Brian Peck. A Republican has yet to announce for the seat but the nature of the district alone makes Probst potentially vulnerable against the right candidate.

17 th District 2010 US Senate Results – Dino Rossi, 55% Patty Murray, 45%