It may be a long election night November 2 if Republicans are on watch for the outcome of the Pacific coast. If Democratic women incumbents win Senate races in California and Washington, it is all but impossible for the minority party to hold the majority in the 112th Senate.
Washington is the wild card or ace in the hole as the eleventh seat in the lineup that party hopefuls think will lead to the net gain of ten to claim 51 seats in the senate. It was the last entry on the roster, a viable possibility only after Dino Rossi, former legislator and real estate developer, said he would run a few months ago.
Senator Patty Murray (D) is seeking her fourth term. The insurgent grassroots surprise of her day (1992), she captured public fascination with the year of the woman. The mom in tennis shoes proved a people based effort could topple the establishment, long before anyone imagined a community organizer would get to the White House. As a side note, President Obama was in Washington for a Murray fundraiser on Tuesday
Washington’s primary is conducted mostly by mail with a permanent class of absentee voters. It was the working woman subset of these voters who were the base for Democratic victories in the last decade. The state’s system also has an open primary where candiates run against the field and the top two regardless of party meet in the general election.
The direction of the evening was settled within a few hours of the official close for the dropoff of ballots at polling stations. Murray was declared the top finisher with under 50 percent and Rossi placed second with more than a third of the vote.
Unlike the ambitious heady outsiders who flung themselves into contests more than a year ago, Rossi was cautious about his plans. He already lost two gubernatorial races in 2004 and 2008 to Governor Christine Gregoire (D). Nobody wants to be remembered as the political version of Bobby Riggs (younger ones – jgi). With the overall climate improving, Rossi listened to national operatives and announced, piecing together an organization with remnants from other contests.
State party regulars weren’t so enthusiastic, weighing the public desire for a new face with Rossi’s over exposure in losing twice.
It wasn’t as if the state didn’t already have Republican candidates. Sarah Palin endorsed Clint Didier, former NFL football player from the western part of the state. He was the Tea Party favorite. Before the end of the primary, Didier paired with businessman Paul Akers to stop Rossi. Didier had less than 10 percent in incomplete return.
Rossi has a chance only if the soccer moms, and now their grown children, abandon her after voting for Murray for three terms. The kids born in 1992 are now 18. Think about that!
This is guaranteed – absent a fluke – to be a Republican pickup. Governor Dave Freudenthal (D) can’t run again. Seven Republicans filed, including two from prominent families. Colin Simpson, speaker of the legislature and son/grandson of former senators, was running fourth. Sarah Palin’s candidate Rita Meyer was running third. Former US attorney Matt Mead, whose family has held office for years, was running neck and neck with former legislator Ron Micheli. Around midnight, Mead was on top with 29% of the vote (30,272) followed closely by Meyer with 28% (29,558) and Micheli in third with 26% (15,416) of the vote.