This is my final column. I thank The Olympian for the opportunity to share my thoughts. I appreciate that other daily newspapers around the state reprinted some of my columns — from the Aberdeen World to the Spokesman-Review.
What a bizarre year in elections. None of us has ever seen anything like it. My predictions regarding President-elect Donald Trump were wrong throughout the primary season and in the general election.
Clearly, however, the Trump bandwagon didn’t come to the state of Washington — or to the West Coast, for that matter. His campaign did a shrewd job of connecting with people hurt by international trade, immigration, globalism, the reduction of manufacturing and such. Our state, on the other hand, loves international trade (one out of every 2.5 jobs is related to it), and likes the immigrants from Mexico who pick our fruit and vegetables and from India and China who work at our high tech companies. Sitting on the Pacific Rim, we embrace globalism and have been enormously successful with it. Our manufacturing sector is doing well. So it’s no wonder his message didn’t resonate here — with the exception of areas with closed mills.
As a consequence, Trump lost badly in this state. He received 38 percent of the vote. That is one of the lowest percentages for a major party presidential candidate in our state’s history. It is comparable to U. S. Senator Barry Goldwater’s showing in 1964, 37.4 percent.
But there’s a significant difference. Goldwater’s showing cost Washington state Republicans four congressional seats and a large number of legislative and county positions. That didn’t happen this year. Congressional incumbents of both parties were re-elected handily. The state House did not change — with 50 Democrats and 48 Republicans. The Republicans lost one seat in the state Senate to make it 25-R and 24-D — with one of the Democrats, Tim Sheldon, caucusing and usually voting with the Republicans.
There were some interesting geopolitical shifts.
The suburbs in King County are becoming bluer. Republicans lost a couple of their rising stars — Sen. Steve Litzow and Rep. Teri Hickel. Seattle continues to get bluer and bluer. A good example is Secretary of State Kim Wyman. Outside of King County, she won in a landslide — 60.6 percent to 39.4 percent. In King County, she received only 41.3 percent. It was worse in Seattle — around 30 percent.
On the other hand, Pierce County has shifted from a Democratic county to a swing Republican county. State Sen. Bruce Dammeier, R-Puyallup, was elected county executive. The County Council majority is Republican. Wyman pulled 59 percent of the vote there.
In another significant development, southwest Washington has moved from “yellow dog Democrat” to swing Republican. Using Wyman as the example again, her average vote in that area was 64 percent. Republican Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler carried that region with 62 percent of the vote. This is a total switch from the second half of the 20th century.
Eastern Washington is doing the reverse of King County. While many counties over there used to elect Democrats, it’s becoming all Republican with the exception of one legislative district in the central part of Spokane. Wyman pulled almost 70 percent of the vote on the other side of the mountains.
Northwest Washington continues to be a swing area. Based on this year’s results, it could more accurately be described as swing Democrat.
There’s an interesting trend developing in county government, the success of independent candidacies. We witnessed it here in Thurston County with two being elected county commissioner to join another independent. This is after 16 years of three Democrats.
This trend started in Wahkiakum County in 2006. It’s spread in southwestern Washington to Cowlitz and other counties.
In home rule counties, the trend is amending their charters from partisan to nonpartisan officials.
In terms of statewide officials, we will have the first Republican state treasurer in over half a century. Also, Thurston County can take pride in having three statewide officials: Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, Secretary of State Kim Wyman and Superintendent of Public Instruction-elect Chris Reykdal.
While it was wild and wooly for both political parties, this has been a fascinating election year for us elections buffs. Thanks for going along on the ride with me.
Sam Reed, who served three terms as Washington secretary of state and 23 years as Thurston County auditor, is a member of the 2016 Olympian Board of Contributors.