Big Upset, Washington Normal | Inside Politics

Bob Roegner. File photo

A few weeks ago Donald Trump said “the election is rigged.” He also said, “the Electoral College is a disaster for democracy.” Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, but it is Trump who is president-elect. I wonder if he still thinks it was rigged?

Most of the statements made by Trump were inaccurate, while most of the negative comments made about Clinton were not true. But half of the country believed them. Many voters felt left out and that the system was against them. They needed someone to blame and someone to listen, and were so starved, or frustrated, for a leader that they would embrace a narcissistic, bigoted demagogue, whose own party didn’t really want him. And yet Trump is the logical culmination of his own party’s behavior. They have not played the “loyal opposition that democracy contemplates.” Big wallets funded “dark money” for several years and Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio followed previous candidates that have accused Washington of corruption. They demanded their country back as if someone stole it. They backed stand your ground laws that took on racial overtones. Some states and candidates supported positions that women, minorities, gays, lesbians or those with different religious beliefs felt were discriminatory.

Trump just followed the same playbook as others, he only took it to extreme. Many of those that created Trump wouldn’t back him and prior to election day many voters who supported Trump wouldn’t admit it, as he seemed to go out of his way to alienate and insult as many people and groups as possible.

Many thought “hell froze over” and “pigs learned how to fly” when the Cubs won the World Series. But Trump’s win was an even bigger upset!

What Trump does with his opportunity will be an important history lesson for the country. Will he step up to the challenge and try and heal the divide, while risking eroding his base? Or will he try to follow through on his promises and deepen the divide. Will he be able to admit error or continue to blame the system he is now part of?

His best clue so far, “I won,” was superficial, didn’t sound promising nor was it the thoughtful response we would have hoped for. Only time will tell.

On the other hand, with his freewheeling lack-of-facts style he could become the most entertaining president of all time.

However, in this sea of chaos and uncertainty, our Washington proved to be a bastion of predictability. We re-elected a Democratic governor in Jay Inslee, and a Republican secretary of state in Kim Wyman on the same ballot. In presidential years Democrats show up, and with the help of Independents, elect Democrats to most of the statewide offices. But we don’t ignore competence and just having a Seattle address isn’t enough to ensure victory as Tina Podlodowski found in her loss to Wyman. Wyman will be joined by fellow Republican Duane Davidson, the new state treasurer, among the few statewide Republican office holders on the west coast.

Both houses of the Legislature went into the election close, and stayed the same way. Republicans dropped one vote, but still control the state Senate 25-24. Democrats will still hold the House, but the final split is still undecided, 50-48 or 51-47. Several races in Pierce County were very close including the Pam Roach, Carolyn Edmonds race where Republican Roach led by 87 votes. That is a long way from the heady days when Pierce County Democrats controlled the Legislature and the governor’s office. Pierce County is no longer reliably Democratic, it is a toss-up county wide.

Two of the key races for control of the Legislature were right here in Federal Way, as Democrats Mike Pellicciotti and Kristine Reeves upset Republican incumbents Linda Kochmar and Teri Hickel. With the years that Kochmar and Hickel have devoted to community activities it felt like a passing of the torch. Although unlikely, Hickel could still close the gap before certification on November 29. Or if she doesn’t, she and Kochmar could consider running again in two years, or running for another position next year. Either way both seats in the 30th will be targeted in 2018.

Watch to see if there are any repercussions next year in city races because of Democratic Mayor Jim Ferrell’s participation in picture taking with the two Republicans the past two years.

Sound Transit 3 passed comfortably and set the stage for our transportation future. Congratulations on passage should go to Seattle and Snohomish County. Even though we are among the primary beneficiaries, ST3 was 50-50 in many of the suburbs. Despite the danger of rail not getting to Federal Way if the measure failed, only Ferrell, Deputy Mayor Jeanne Burbidge and Councilwoman Lydia Assefa-Dawson were among city leaders to support it. Council members Dini Duclos, Martin Moore, and Susan Honda, all were opposed, while Kelly Maloney and Mark Koppang wouldn’t disclose whether they supported it or not. Some of our city’s elected officials left the courage it takes to be a leader to others.

Of our state legislators, Sen. Mark Miloscia, never took a position on ST3, and both state representatives Kochmar and Hickel opposed it, while their opponents Reeves and Pellicciotti both supported it. If the election results hold, much will be expected of the two Democrats.

Longtime Federal Way legislator Miloscia again lost his election for state auditor. He lost four years ago as a Democrat, to a Democrat. And this year lost as a Republican to a Democrat. His Senate seat is up in two years and he is likely to face a challenger as the Democrats will target him in this purple district. If re-elected, will he will try for auditor again in four years?

Local Municipal Judge Dave Larson lost in his first attempt at statewide office. Most of the state’s voters favor using the McCleary decision to force more funding for education. They also don’t want public dollars used to support private charter schools unless the schools follow the same rules as public schools. When the Supreme Court races shifted from judicial debate to an attempt to remake the Supreme Court into a more political body by putting big money behind running a slate opposed to policies supported by most state voters it changed the dynamic of the races. The three incumbents won comfortably although Larson ran the closet race. Larson had claimed he was not part of the slate. But to voters it appeared that he was, as he shared many of the slate’s views.

There was another candidate with Federal Way ties that was on the ballot. Linda Farmer, who worked in City Hall prior to the change to a strong mayor system, ran for the Pierce County Council. She lost in a good race.

As expected most of the statewide offices went to Democrats and all the state incumbent representatives to Congress were re-elected, and will be joined by a new congresswoman to replace Jim McDermott. Patty Murray easily won again and is now positioned for a leadership role we haven’t seen since Spokane’s Tom Foley was speaker of the House.

Many of these races were very hard-fought and some wounds may not heal for awhile. But the turnout of voters was outstanding. It may not always be pretty, but it is how our democracy works.

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is the former mayor of Auburn. He can be reached at

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