Is this a Republican year? Many from both parties think it might be.
Traditionally, there is midterm public push back benefiting the party opposite the president’s party. In this case, the Democrats control both congressional houses and the presidency.
However, could it be more than history that guides the voters’ reactions? And if so, how deep will it go?
Nationally, the Democrats have the power and they have used it. In some cases, such as bailing out Wall Street, Democrats argue that the power was used reluctantly as a responsibility of governing.
Republicans argue that Democrats are headed the wrong direction — and have voted no on just about everything from the Democrats.
Also, given the fundamental differences, it really isn’t in the Republicans’ best interest to help the Democrats as they position themselves for the 2010 and 2012 elections and a possible return to power.
The debate and subsequent national division on health care has provided a stark contrast in viewpoints and has given rise to the conservative Tea Party movement.
Nationally, each party has approximately the same number of congressional seats in play, but many of the Democratic seats are in swing districts, while most of the Republican seats are considered safe districts. As a result, Democrats are on the defensive and Republicans are on the attack.
Just a few months ago, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) appeared to be in such good shape that Republicans were unable to recruit a name candidate to run against her. More recently, three different polls show Republican Dino Rossi leading her in head to head match-ups.
In Olympia, where they control both Houses and the governor’s office, Democrats had a difficult session. They had a huge hole in the budget and had to go overtime to reach agreement on how to fill it.
They chose a combination of cuts and taxes, although they did avoid a general sales tax increase.
The Republicans, like their national counterparts, found little benefit either philosophically or politically in supporting Democratic initiatives — so they didn’t.
Nobody comes out of the session looking very good, but because they are in power, Democrats are more likely to suffer political exposure than Republicans.
So, how will this affect our local races? A year ago, Federal Way City Council member Jim Ferrell was considering running against longtime popular Democratic State Sen. Tracey Eide. Ferrell heard the same story from most of the people he talked to: “Eide is unbeatable.” Ferrell chose to put his political energies elsewhere. More recently, the view is that Eide will still be a difficult candidate to defeat, but she may not be unbeatable. This change led Federal Way School Board chairman Tony Moore, a Republican, to jump in the race.
Also, Republican Shawn Sullivan has announced plans to run against Democratic incumbent State Rep. Mark Miloscia. The other District 30 House member, Republican Skip Priest, hasn’t made his plans known. If he vacates his House seat to run for Federal Way mayor, it may give us a clearer view of public sentiment. If not, it might be the wrong year for a Democrat to take him on.
Watch all the moves. As always, it will be entertaining.