Opinion

Redistricting in Washington: Is Kucinich coming to town? | Bob Roegner

It is May 2011 and we haven’t even had filing week for local fall elections yet, and most of the political speculation is still focused on 2012.

Every issue is discussed in terms of its impact on the presidential election, control of Congress, the race for governor or control of the state Legislature.

Trying to determine President Obama’s political gain from getting Osama bin Laden is simple. History tells us he will get a temporary positive bump, and it will be harder to question his Commander in Chief credentials.

But next year’s election will be decided by two other issues. People vote their pocketbook. If the economy is up, that is good for Obama. If the economy is down, that is bad for the president.

The second issue is the Republicans have to field a credible candidate. So far all the major Republican candidates also have major flaws. Independent voters decide elections, if republicans keep pushing their candidates farther to the right, the independents will turn left. If the opponent for Obama is simply the last person standing after a series of divisive primaries and the economy is gaining, Obama will win.

But, the real issue to watch is redistricting. It will play a big role in who controls both Washingtons for the next 10 years.

Our Washington will get a tenth seat in Congress due to population growth. The Midwestern states will lose some seats. But where will our new congressional seat be located and who will win it?

We don’t know the answer to either of those yet. But Ohio congressman and former presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich was in the state recently looking over the territory for a possible move here to run in the new district. Kucinich expects to be redistricted out of his district in Cleveland, and his politics would fit well in some areas here, and not so well in others. The process would be difficult because he would have to move, and at this point, he doesn’t know where he will move. And state Democratic party chair Dwight Pelz didn’t exactly put out the welcome mat, either.

The new district could emerge from the area south of Tacoma or north of Federal way or north of Seattle. Different groups are trying to fashion their own plans, and of course Democrats and Republicans are going to try and influence the process.

Congressman Adam Smith, who represents this area, lives in the middle of his district so he will likely be safe from redistricting — although the district may look a little different.

Republican John Koster, who lost to incumbent Congressman Rick Larson last time, announced last week that he will run for Congress again. He wants to get an early start. However, he hasn’t decided which seat he will run for. He may challenge Larson again, or depending on where the new congressional lines are drawn, he may run for the new seat. If Jay Inslee vacates his congressional seat to run for governor, as many expect he will do, Koster could run for Inslee’s seat. Inslee represents the Everett area.

Kucinich visited these areas along with areas south and on the Olympic Peninsula. Others are also watching and waiting.

Also, some Republicans are trying to talk Congressman Dave Reichert into running for higher office, which would mean vacating his seat. Reichert has had several close races and redistricting could move enough voters to either make him more vulnerable or safe.

If you want to see the politics you rarely get to see, but will impact elections for years to come, watch redistricting.

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