Opinion

Election picks for Federal Way and Washington races | Bob Roegner

This is the second column of election picks as selected by a consensus of my political experts. As always, if they are wrong, they can be replaced by other experts who might be just as wrong. But it is fun anyway.

As I mentioned in last week’s column, turnout is still the key to several races.

The race to be Federal Way’s first popularly elected mayor has been the headliner all summer and fall. State Rep. and former appointed mayor Skip Priest came out of the primary with an eight point lead over Federal Way City Councilman Jim Ferrell and has worked hard to maintain it. There were points of agreement and disagreement between the two, but the biggest difference that emerged was one of style. As the front-runner, Priest presented himself as the most experienced with time in city and state government and said he had the most contacts that could help Federal Way. He came across as steady and confident, and suggested he would be able to work with the city council, city staff and the community better than Ferrell.

Ferrell, as the “challenger,” had to be the aggressor throughout the campaign — and he was, as he took issue with Priest’s work experience, knowledge of city issues, and said he would provide better leadership. My experts say Priest by a couple of points.

The state Senate race between Democratic incumbent Tracey Eide and Republican school board member Tony Moore seemed to replicate the mayor race in tone and style — meaning it got a little nasty. Eide was able to score points by reminding voters of her leadership clout that has brought home many projects that benefit Federal Way. Moore tried to tie into voters’ anger with incumbents and Eide’s role in the state budget. Conventional wisdom is Eide in a close one.

My experts caution that either of these races could go the other way.

One of the things that could help Eide is the view that Federal Way, as a swing district, likes to split its ticket in close races and may vote for Republican Katrina Asay over Democrat Carol Gregory. Incumbent Democrat Mark Miloscia is expected to have a comfortable win over first-time candidate Shawn Sullivan, a Republican. The other wild card in the legislative races is that Jim Ferrell will have to try and appeal to Democrats and independents if he is going to defeat Skip Priest for mayor. Priest is expected to have the inside track on Republican voters. The more Democrats and independents Ferrell brings to the polls to help his race, the more it could help Eide and Gregory. At this point, it still looks like Eide and Asay.

King County Charter amendment No. 1 would clarify the county role in providing urban, rural and regional services. It could also establish a new position in the executive branch. If the public reads only the first part, it could pass. If they read the full text, it could confuse them and they could vote no. My guess, it will pass. King County Charter amendment No. 2, deleting duplicate filing for candidates, should pass. King County Charter amendment No. 3, which would remove the Executive from bargaining working conditions for the sheriff’s union and give authority to the Sheriff, may pass, but shouldn’t as it will give the sheriff’s union political power over the sheriff come election time. Also, this is the first step toward the union’s goal of moving salary negotiations as well. Same problem. The Executive provides a needed buffer. Other than Prosecutor, where incumbent Dan Satterberg is unopposed, the only county position up for election this year is to the King County Council to replace Dow Constantine, who was elected Executive. Legislator Joe McDermott will win.

When voters are fearful, they vote no, which suggests King County Proposition No. 1 to increase the sales tax for public safety will likely lose.

Incumbent U.S. Senator Patty Murray, a Democrat, has reached a position in seniority where she has enough power to bring home money and projects to her state. Republican challenger Dino Rossi has tried the unique approach of trying to make that asset a negative by saying those “earmark” projects are bad for the budget. While it will be close, the bet is Murray.

In House Congressional races: Republicans Doc Hastings (Yakima), Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (Spokane) and Democrats Jim McDermott (Seattle), Norm Dicks (Tacoma) and Jay Inslee (Bainbridge Island) will all be re-elected. Democrat Rick Larson will hold off a serious challenge from John Koster to keep his seat in Everett. Democrat Suzan DelBene has made up a lot of ground by saving her money until now and by taking a page from the Republicans’ playbook and attacking Dave Reichert as a “big spender.” She has closed the gap from 12 to seven points. But it may not be enough to take Reichert’s 8th District congressional seat in Auburn. In the 9th District, Dick Muri has made a move, but Adam Smith should be able to hold on to his seat as the Green Party voters will return after their candidate was knocked out in the primary. Down in the 3rd District, Democrat Denny Heck was expected to win and replace retiring Democratic Congressman Brian Baird. Heck did lead coming out of the primary. But if you’re looking for an upset, this could be it. Republican State Rep. Jamie Herrera’s numbers were a surprise in the primary and the Republicans had a big turnout. She has come on strong and now leads Heck in the polling. Heck will win in Olympia, but if Mason and Lewis counties have a big turnout, Herrera looks like the winner.

It’s fun to do predictions, but the only vote that counts is yours.

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