Washington Midterm Races

After analyzing Missouri and Indiana, our attention now turns to the Pacific Northwest and Washington State.  The current delegation from here favors the Democratic Party 6-4 which is pretty good for the Republicans in a blue state.  Unlike the previous two states in this series, there is greater potential for changes.

In the First District, Democrat Suzan DelBene will face Pedro Celis on November 4th.  Celis had to make it through a tough, close primary to get this far.  Washington uses an open primary system, like California, where the top 2 in votes advance to the general election.  DelBene was the only Democrat in the primary while Celis had to fight off four other Republicans.  Adding the GOP votes together, should the coalitions hold, DelBene would win a close race- 58,000 to 52,000.  Prediction: DelBene by about 5-7 points.

Republican Jaime Herrera-Beutler represents the south central portion of the state in the Third.  Cook rates it +2 Republican and I rate it +1.  Herrera-Beutler first won this seat in the GOP wave of 2010 by 6 percentage points.  With Obama at the top of the ticket in 2012, she improved to a 20 percentage point victory against a weaker opponent.  This year, she draws a former Cantwell aid, Bob Dingenthal.  This race should be closely watched only because of the PVI ratings, but I believe Herrera-Beutler will prevail in the end.

One needs to mention the Fourth only because Republican Doc Hastings is retiring leaving the seat open.  This is the most Republican district in the state as evidenced by the fact that on November 4th, a Republican (Clint Didier) will be facing off against a fellow Republican (Dan Newhouse).  Look for a Didier victory here.

The one district problematic for the GOP is the 8th District represented by incumbent GOP Dave Reichert.  This district, in presidential elections, has a Democratic streak running back to 1992.  While Cook rates it +2 Republican, I rate it +10 Democratic. The reason is the large margin of victories for Democratic presidential candidates, the small margin of victories for Republican congressional candidates and redistricting.  In the open primary, Reichert “beat” the second place Jason Ritchie by a 2-1 margin.

Ritchie is a liberal’s liberal in every sense of the word and on all the issues.  He supports union organizing rights, Obamacare, comprehensive immigration reform, campaign finance reform, etc.  Reichert, on the other hand, is described as a moderate conservative by most websites.  First elected in 2004, all of his races except 2012 were close ones.  One expects a close race this year.  But, the fact that he garnered 60% of the vote in 2012 with Obama at the top of the ticket coupled with his moderate stances on certain issues, Reichert should prevail.  If he keeps Obamacare in the spotlight, it should be a winning strategy.  Losing, however, would be a mild surprise and this race should be more closely watched with the potential to change come Election Day.

The 10th Congressional District is the newest, added after the 2010 census located in the south central part of the state.  Represented by Dan Heck, a Democrat, he will square off against Republican Joyce McDonald in November.  Assuming some of the independents jump to the GOP side, it will make this an interestingly close race.  Cook rates it +2 Democratic while I rate it +6 for that party.  Still, a low turnout race could be the means to push McDonald even closer. Considering the fact that primary turnout was about average,  this writer is not counting on particularly low turnout and predicting that Dan Heck will win by about 6 points. 

Thus, although there are some interesting sleeper races here, I am predicting that the delegation will remain 6-4 in favor of the Democrats from Washington after November 4th.

There is a pair of somewhat competing questions on the ballot regarding gun control- I-591 and I-594.  The latter would require background checks on all gun purchases- through licensed dealers or private sales.  It would exempt sales between family members.    Local police or sheriffs would be tasked with certifying that a potential gun owner is qualified to own one.  This initiative has received support from several liberal groups and Microsoft executives, including Bill Gates.  The state’s largest law enforcement group opposes the measure as cumbersome and unlikely to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.

The competing measure- I-591- would make confiscation of any firearm illegal without due process, and would make firearms background checks no more stringent than national standards.  Ironically, both measures in recent polling (which is admittedly 5 months old) show support.  If they both are approved, it simply muddles the issue and we are essentially back to square one.  This will be an interesting case to watch from Washington as concerns gun rights versus gun control.

Next: We transition to the Northeast with New York, Delaware, Vermont and Rhode Island.

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