In June, I wrote a column suggesting readers watch certain legislative races to see how conventional political wisdom was holding up against the voters’ actual choices after the primary.
Conventional thinking is that this is a blue or Democratic year nationwide and in this state.
At the same time, voters are not happy and want change — and believe that the Legislature can do a better job. But voters also tend to blame “other” legislators and re-elect their own. How do these potentially contrasting views play out?
In the 30th District, both state representative seats are contested. As expected, veteran Democratic incumbent Mark Miloscia led his Republican challenger Michael Thompson with about 66 percent to 34 percent in the primary.
However, the other race provides the interesting political note.
Republican Skip Priest is the incumbent in that seat and has actually trailed his Democratic challenger after the primary in past years. His opponent is longtime Federal Way resident Carol Gregory. Also, Democratic leadership has targeted Priest and his seat as one that may be in play. But coming out of the primary, Priest led 58 percent to Gregory’s 42 percent. This was a surprise given Miloscia’s numbers.
Over in the 31st District (Auburn), they have the same situation. Republican incumbent Dan Roach led Democratic opponent Ron Weigelt 56 percent to 44 percent. His district seat mate, Democrat Chris Hurst, carried 61 percent, which provided a comfortable margin over the combined totals of his Republican opponents Josh Hulbert and Sharon Hanek, who came in under 40 percent. Like the 30th District, voters stayed with incumbents regardless of party.
Moving a little farther east, the 47th District (Covington, Maple Valley, Enumclaw) is proving interesting. One race went according to script as Democratic incumbent Pat Sullivan held a firm lead of 56 percent to his opponent Tim Miller’s 44 percent.
However, the other Democratic incumbent, House member Geoff Simpson, could be in trouble — or, maybe not? Republican challenger Mark Hargrove was actually leading Simpson in the vote count, 46 percent to 39 percent. Also, Simpson does have some political baggage after an altercation with his ex-wife. The political effect may have been evident in his fellow Democrat Leslie Kae Hamada’s taking 14 percent of the vote. Will Hamada’s votes go to Simpson or Hargrove, or will they sit out the race? We’ll see in November.
In the 11th District (Renton), the new top-two format produced three Democratic candidates with incumbent Sen. Margarita Prentice taking just under 50 percent, which should put her in good position for November.
In the 41st District (Mercer Island/Renton), all three legislators came from the Mercer Island portion of the district. Democratic Sen. Brian Weinstein stepped down and Republican House member Fred Jarrett stepped up. But he stepped up as a Democrat. Would there be a reaction? Apparently not. Jarrett was leading at 58 percent.
Jarrett’s former House seat was being contested by Republican Mercer Island City Council member Steve Litzow and Renton Democratic school board member Marcie Maxwell. Geographic vote totals would seem to favor the Mercer Island resident; however, Democrat Maxwell was leading 53 percent to 47 percent.
As expected, the race for position one in the 45th District (Kirkland/Bellevue) between Democratic incumbent Roger Goodman and Republican challenger Toby Nixon is neck and neck. Position two is held by Democrat Larry Springer and the Eastside is moving Democratic, but Nixon used to hold the seat and is just as well known as Goodman. Watch this race in November along with position one in the 47th District. They may tell us whether there is a blue wave or not.
Voters in the 30th and 31st districts appear more likely to stay with their split ideology seat mates, but who knows. That’s why we actually have elections.
Federal Way resident Bob Roegner, a former mayor of Auburn, can be reached at email@example.com.