August 09, 2013
Washington State's Reform Coalition Passes Its First Voter Test

Last December, a reform coalition of 2 dissident Democrats, Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon, and the Republican minority, took control of the Washington state Senate.

Barely.  The 2 Democrats joined 23 Republicans to control the Senate, 25-24.

Meanwhile, thanks in part to Obama, the Democrats won control of almost everything else, statewide.  They kept control of the Washington House, they kept control of the governor's mansion, replacing Christine Gregoire with Jay Inslee.  (Who is already making me miss Gregoire.)  And they won every statewide office except Secretary of State.

Nonetheless, that bare Senate majority was able to dominate the policy decisions of the last session of our state legislature.  They promised no new taxes, more money for education, and controlling spending elsewhere.

And that, essentially, is what we got.  (You can see how successful they were from the reaction of Seattle Times columnist, and quasi-official Democratic spokesman, Danny Westneat.)

Somewhat, I must admit, to my surprise.  It isn't easy for majorities that small to stay together, even in the best of circumstances.  Nor is it easy for majorities that small to judge, accurately, what they can accomplish, and can't.

But they succeeded at both, and for that, all twenty-five deserve much credit.

On the whole, I think they did about the best for the state they could have, in the circumstances.  If I were grading them, I would give them A's for substance and tactics.

And in the first test of voter sentiment, voters in swing districts appear to agree.   After Democrat Derek Kilmer won the 6th House district (replacing Norm Dicks), he resigned from the state senate.  The Democratic party chose his temporary replacement, Nathan Schlicher.

Washington law requires an election for a permanent replacement, and held a top-two primary last Tuesday.  Jan Angel, the Republican candidate, has a solid lead over Schlicher, 15,560-12,909, as I write.  (Almost all the votes should be counted by now, even though Washington accepts ballots that are mailed on the day of the election.)

In the past, leads that large, more than nine percent, have almost always held up in the general election.  Almost always.

So I think we can conclude, tentatively, that the majority coalition has passed its first voter test.

Cross posted at Jim Miller on Politics.

Posted by Jim Miller at August 09, 2013 09:02 AM | Email This