Election analysis: Economy will guide voters

Wow! What a dynamic and fast-changing political landscape we came through. Remember it because it’s historical.

Wow! What a dynamic and fast-changing political landscape we came through. Remember it because it’s historical.

A former political leader once said, “In politics a week is a long time.” He was right. It wasn’t that long ago that Sen. Hillary Clinton’s (D-N.Y.) loss to Barack Obama (D-Ill.) left some Democratic and many independent women’s groups up for grabs as possible swing votes to Republicans.

Also, at one time the war in Iraq was the leading issue and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was perceived as the best candidate to handle foreign affairs.

Obama picked Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) to help strengthen his foreign policy background, while McCain countered with a woman, Sarah Palin, governor of Alaska.

McCain held trump on both issues, but only for a short time. Then with shocking speed, Palin stumbled, righted herself, then became an afterthought as the top three issues became the economy, the economy and the economy! Advantage Obama.

What followed was politics at its mercurial worst, but political humor at its best. Obama had been the candidate of change; now almost every candidate wanted to share that mantle. Republicans who were walking away from their embattled president were now running away. Democrats were attacking Congress and the Washington Legislature even though they controlled both. So who’s going to win? And will there be a blue wave? In talking with politicos from both parties to gain their non-partisan insight, here’s what I found.

Nationally, the economy will guide voters and there will be a blue wave. Possibly big enough in the U.S. Senate to make the Democratic majority filibuster-proof. Barack Obama will win and Darcy Burner (D-Bellevue) should get enough of a boost to edge Republican incumbent Congressman Dave Reichert (D-Auburn) in the 8th District. Other Congressional incumbents will be re-elected.

But as the voters go down their ballot, they will stop the blue wave at the governor’s race and really think through Democrat Christine Gregoire or Republican Dino Rossi. It looks like Gregoire by two points with King and Pierce counties providing the margin. The Obama affect makes the difference with thousands of new voters.

Democrat Peter Goldmark will get enough of a benefit to defeat Republican Doug Sutherland for land commissioner, as will Democrat Jim McIntire in his race for state treasurer against Republican Allan Martin. The blue wave will lose steam and the voters will be selective after that.

Republicans Rob McKenna as attorney general and Sam Reed as secretary of state will win comfortably. Democrats Brad Owen (lieutenant governor), Mike Kriedler (insurance commissioner) and Brian Sonntag (auditor) will all return to office.

The Legislature will remain firmly Democratic, which will surprisingly please some Republican strategists who see more long-term gain in having the Democrats deal with the state’s budget shortfall.

They see a bounce-back in two years benefiting Republican legislative candidates and in four years benefiting their candidate for governor — either Rossi as the incumbent, or a new candidate.

Republicans Skip Priest (R-Federal Way) in the 30th District and Dan Roach (R-Maple Valley) in the 31st District will be re-elected despite the Democratic turnout. But the Democratic turnout may save both Geoff Simpson (D-Maple Valley) in the 47th District and Roger Goodman in the 45th District — and elect Marcie Maxwell (D-Renton) in the 41st.

The King County Charter amendments will pass comfortably with the exception of the 20 percent signature initiative, and non-partisan offices will be a big winner. Pierce County voters will try instant run-off voting, but may find they don’t like it. First of all, it really isn’t “instant” and secondly, the person who wins may be the candidate who is least objectionable to the majority of voters, not the candidate with the most votes election night. Betting line on county executive? Pat McCarthy or Shawn Bunney.

Randy Dorn will benefit from the “change” mentality and be elected Superintendent of Public Instruction. Proposition 1 for transportation will be defeated. Tim Eyman’s Initiative 985 on traffic congestion will pass, but we’ll probably regret it later.

Vote wisely, the stakes are very high.

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner, a former mayor of Auburn, can be reached at bjroegner@comcast.net.

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Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, writer and columnist. He is a former president of the Association of Washington Business, the state’s oldest and largest business organization, and lives in Vancouver. Contact thebrunells@msn.com.
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