The Midterms: Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington

Promoted from the diaries by streiff. Promotion does not imply endorsement.

Today, the series looks at three states on opposite ends of the continent.


Rhode Island

Sheldon “Boof” Whitehouse is up for reelection this year.  He is the Democratic incumbent Senator from Rhode Island who made a fool of himself in the recent Kavanaugh hearings with that riveting questioning where we found out the meaning of “boof,” “devil’s triangle,” and “FFFFF.”  Unfortunately, this ass will be reelected.  As will their two Democratic Congressmen.

If there is any hope for the GOP, it is in the gubernatorial race where incumbent Democrat Gina Raiondo faces former Cranston mayor, Alam Fung.  This is a rematch of 2014 where Fung lost by about 14,000 votes.  Then, the presence of moderate Robert Healey drew 21% of the vote, likely costing Fung the victory.  Raimondo won that election and went on to sport some of the worst approval ratings for a Governor in the country.  Raimondo got in trouble with the state’s progressives over restructuring of the state worker pension system, but they seem to have kissed and made up.

For her part, Raimondo is trying to portray Fung as an acolyte of President Trump since Fung attended Trump’s inauguration.  There is another candidate in the race- conservative Joe Trillo.  The former state rep recently received the endorsement of state house minority (GOP) leader Patricia Morgan.  Morgan lost the GOP gubernatorial primary to Fung this year, 56-40%.  According to Morgan’s office, Fung’s outreach to her after the primary “did not go well.”


On occasion, Rhode Island will break towards an independent or a moderate Republican.  Raimondo wil likely win this race, but also will not likely break the 50% mark.  And the presence of Trillo works to the disadvantage of Fung this year, just as Healey worked to the disadvantage of Raimondo in 2014.  The difference is she managed to eke out a victory.


Bernie Sanders is up for reelection against Brooke Paige for the GOP.  Sanders will be running as a Democrat since the DNC changed their rules and future presidential candidates must be registered Democrats.  This fuels speculation Sanders will run again in 2020.  Being the most popular Senator of either party, it is a foregone conclusion he will easily win reelection.  The same is true of entrenched Democratic incumbent Congressman Peter Welch who will run against the aforementioned Brooke Paige.

Vermont allows candidates to run for multiple offices in any election year.  In fact, Paige is the Republican candidate for six offices- US Senate, US House and four state offices.  His chances of winning any are very slim and his reasons are simple.  In previous years, the GOP is so weak in Vermont that they would not field any candidates in many races.  On primary day, Democrats would cross over and write in the name of Democratic candidates.  With no candidates running, the state’s Republicans would stay at home.

Like New Hampshire, Vermont elects a Governor every two years.  Republican incumbent Phil Scott is up for reelection and won the primary 68-32.  Once one of the most popular Governors in the country of either party, that popularity took a serious hit when he signed a series of gun control measures into place.  He will face David “Call Me Christine” Hallquist for the Democrats.  That would make Hallquist the first openly transgender candidate for Governor from any major party.  The Democrats are great at claiming “firsts” and this would be a big one!  However, I invite you view Hallquist’s Wikipedia page and see him/her for yourselves.  I swear it is really Corey Feldman in drag.



Democratic incumbent Senator Maria Cantwell will face Susan Hutchinson for the GOP.  It appears that Cantwell is headed back to DC with a likely double-digit Election Day victory.

Instead, the action will be at the Congressional level.  The current delegation favors the Democrats 6-4.  One Republican, Dave Reichert in the Eighth District is retiring leaving an open race.  The six Democrats are firmly entrenched, so the only interest is the GOP districts except the 5th occupied by Dan Newhouse.  Jaime Herrera-Beutler is the GOP incumbent in the 3rd District and will face Carolyn Long, a political science professor.  Although neither national party has concentrated on this race, this district was nominally Republican in both 2012 and 2016.  Washington uses a top-two primary system and this year the Democratic vote very slightly outpaced the Republican vote.  That decent showing is offset by the fact that Herrera-Beutler is a good fundraiser and Democratic hopes may be too high here.

In the 5th District, represented by Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, like the 3rd went for Romney and Trump in 2012 and 2016 respectively.  Unlike the 3rd, in the primary the GOP vote favored them by about three percentage points.  Because McMorris-Rodgers is in the GOP leadership in the House, her opponent, Lisa Brown and her Democratic allies, are trying to tie her to Trump, especially citing his border policies.  The McMorris-Rodgers campaign had the Brown campaign crying foul over some mailers that were sent out insinuating that while Brown was in the state legislature she supported proposed bills that would have “protected convicted sex offenders over protecting children.”  For her part, Brown retorts that only the GOP incumbent and her “special interests that have her (McMorris-Rodgers) in her pocket” should have anything to fear.  Likely to be a close race, incumbency should count for something here and the GOP should keep this seat.


That leaves the vacant Eighth District which involves the suburbs of Seattle.  The Republican candidate, Dino Rossi, easily “won” the top two primary with 43% of the vote.  However, because there were so many Democrats in the mix, overall the vote favored the Democrats by 2.8 percentage points in the primary.  Rossi is a state senator who narrowly lost the 2004 gubernatorial race, lost again in 2008 and then ran a decent Senate campaign in 2010 so he is no stranger to such races.  The second place finisher was Democrat Kim Schrier, a doctor.  Recently, Rossi has gone up with an attack ad accusing Schrier’s practice of turning away poor Medicaid-eligible children.  On the defensive, she agrees, but says it because of the provider she works for and their insurance policies, with which she disagrees.  How convenient as she collects a hefty paycheck.

In 2012, this District went from a two point advantage for Obama to a 3 point advantage for Clinton in 2016.  Combined with the 2.8 Democratic advantage in the primary, this may spell potential trouble keeping this seat in Republican hands.  If there is a seat to flip in this state, it will be 8th District, although it will be a race updated at the end of this series.

As of the conclusion of this entry, the numbers stand as follows:

US Senate: 17-15 Democratic; US House 40-39 Democratic, and Governors 10-6 Republican.

Tomorrow: Nebraska and Colorado


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