The political “blue wave” that favors Democrats in the 2018 election cycle hit shore with force in Washington.
Tuesday’s initial primary election results make a few things clear besides the unpopularity of President Donald Trump in this state and county.
Thurston County Democrats got out in force, seeking change in their county commission government, which had flipped from the control of three Democrats until 2014 to an all-Independent trio that leans well to the right.
Bud Blake, an incumbent Independent first elected in 2014, captured a plurality of votes in the primary, or just over a third of ballots cast. But right behind Blake with nearly a third of votes was Democrat Tye Menser, followed by Democrat Melissa Denton with over a quarter of votes.
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Together the Democrats had almost 60 percent of votes while another Independent, Jed Haney, received a little over 5 percent.
Similarly legislative and congressional seats that looked solidly Republican just two or four years ago are swaying back toward Democrats. Overall Democrats had a majority of votes in 16 state House races held today by Republicans and four more GOP seats in the Senate.
Republicans were losing everywhere from Clark County to Whatcom County, in Grays Harbor and in the suburbs of both Seattle and Tacoma.
If the Democrats expand their current razor-thin voting majorities of 50-48 in the House and 25-24 in the Senate, they may demolish they gridlock that blocked Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee’s agendas on taxes and environmental issues after he took office in 2013.
Among the newly vulnerable in South Sound is Republican Rep. Drew MacEwen from Union. He trailed Democrat David Daggett in the 35th district which wraps around Puget Sound from western Thurston County to Mason County and includes some of south Kitsap County.
In other 35th district races, Republican Rep. Dan Griffey of Allyn was ahead of Democrat challenger James Thomas. But in the Senate, two self-identified Democrats advance to November – challenger Irene Bowling, who has party backing, and conservative Sen. Tim Sheldon who typically teams up with Republicans.
In the other three districts that overlap Thurston County, incumbents were looking safe.
The heavy winds pushing the blue wave were also huge in federal races. Locally three-term U.S. Rep. Denny Heck, an Olympia Democrat, had over 60 percent of the vote.
Three of our state’s four GOP-held seats were almost in reach for Democrats. And Democratic U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell had more votes than her 28 challengers combined, more than doubling the GOP runner-up Susan Hutchison, a Trump supporter.
The real campaign starts after Labor Day. But anyone wearing a red campaign hat better put a strap on it.