Turnout and guns may be key to District 30 races | Inside Politics

Bob Roegner - Contributed
Bob Roegner
— image credit: Contributed

The governor’s office and the Washington State House of Representatives are controlled by Democrats. With no other state-wide offices to contest, the big goal this year for both parties is to win control of the state Senate.

And a big piece of the action is our local battle between Republican Mark Miloscia and Democrat Shari Song for the seat now held by retiring Democrat Tracey Eide. Republicans have held the power with a 26-23 majority, but that included two Democrats, Sens. Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon, who joined their caucus.

With Tom not running and Sheldon potentially vulnerable, Democrats thought they may be able to win those two seats. However, the voters seem to have changed the likely outcome. And it looks like Republicans may still hold the Senate come January.

It appears Democrats will win Tom’s seat, and although Sheldon ran second to another Democrat, he will pick up the majority of Republican votes and likely retain his seat. He will likely continue to caucus with the Republicans.

Another seat on the Eastside of King County and one in Tacoma seem likely to stay in the Republican column as well. And the race here? Miloscia won almost 57 percent to Song’s 43 percent in the primary election. It will be very hard for Song to make up the margin.

But to have any hope, state Democrats will have to make some decisions about where to spend their money. If they spend it here, it increases Song’s chances. Third party contributions with Republican connections spent a lot of money to try and put Song away in the primary. And it may have worked. Without a significant increase in financial help, the race could be over.

Also, in the 30th District, Republican state Rep. Linda Kochmar rolled up 59 percent to Democratic challenger Greg Baruso’s 41 percent. Politically, that is a big win for Kochmar. But watch to see how Baruso handles the challenge going forward. He may not win, but if he is interested in being a candidate for the City Council next year, as some have suggested, or running for the Legislature again in two years, he needs to move the numbers to keep his options open.

Politics at the state level are a cold and sometimes cruel business. It is about power, and candidates with low numbers don’t get third party money. Special interest groups with big checkbooks don’t like investing in candidates who don’t seem likely to win. As a result, third party spending on Song and Baruso seems unlikely.

And as expected, the closest race was between Democratic incumbent Roger Freeman and Republican challenger Jack Dovey for Freeman’s seat in the House of Representatives. Freeman led with almost 51 percent to Dovey’s 49 percent. This race may be the most interesting to watch. Two good, smart candidates who know the issues and will run a very clean race.

Even though many of the November winners now seem apparent and it is starting to look like a Republican year, there is a wild card that could change things, and that is voter turnout. There will be two initiatives on the ballot that were put there to draw partisan voters, and they will.

Initiative 594 would apply background checks to all firearms sales and transfers, including gun shows and online sales. A recent poll showed 70 percent support for the measure. Gun control advocates, who usually vote Democratic, like the issue.

Initiative 591 would bar the state from implementing much of initiative 594 and is seen as anti-gun control. Republicans are more likely to vote for it. However, a recent poll showed only 46 percent public support. So far, Republicans seem most invigorated to vote. But if Democrats can get their voters to the polls and also encourage gun control independents to cast a ballot, it might even out the election.

Miloscia and Kochmar are in very comfortable positions, but over the next few months watch the competing gun measures, whether Song gets any help with money and how Baruso responds to his situation. Lastly, enjoy the Freeman-Dovey race, it should be a good one.

Bob Roegner, a former mayor of Auburn: bjroegner@comcast.net.


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