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Washington State Republicans have high hopes, reason for optimism in 2012
By Adam A Isackson
It’s no secret that Democrats have had a stranglehold on Washington State government in recent years. Washington State has the distinction of being the state with the longest Democrat gubernatorial win streak in the country, Democrats having won every governor’s race since they ousted John Spellman in 1984.Democrats also have held majorities in both houses of the state legislature since 2005 and Democrats hold a majority of both federal and other statewide positions.
The news isn’t all bad however and Republicans certainly have reason to be optimistic or even excited about 2012 prospects. As it has been reported by many Attorney General Rob McKenna is all but running and according to a recent poll released by Elway appears to be in a strong position. Against Governor Gregoire or Congressman Jay Inslee, McKenna leads by 12 or 8 points respectively. McKenna, who actually performed better then Barack Obama in the state in 2008 has so far done an impressive job at navigating the oftentimes tumultuous nature of Republicans politics in the state. He should have no problem matching his eventual opponent dollar for dollar, building up a strong campaign apparatus and garnering an army of enthusiastic supporters. This is a race that Republicans can and should be able to win.
When it comes to the makeup of our state house and state senate Republicans also have reason to be optimistic. While the creation of a new congressional district should create a new, and highly competitive district in Washington State the real effect of redistricting should be seen with the redrawing of Washington’s 49 legislative districts. When one examines population change by district it becomes crystal clear that Republicans have the advantage. Generally speaking it’s the highly competitive to Republican leaning districts in the suburbs which are growing the fastest, while the liberal bastions closer to the sound are growing much slower. Whatever proposal the bipartisan redistricting committee eventually adopts, several previously safe Democrat districts should move towards the competitive column. This assumption has been echoed by many inside the Republican Party, including Executive Director Peter Graves who when asked echoed the following,” the demographic shift favors Republicans.”
I would also be remiss if I didn’t also add that Republicans appear ready to nominate a strong successor to Attorney General Rob McKenna in King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn. Dunn, son of late Congresswoman Jennifer Dunn, hasn’t yet formally announced but appeared a strong, and capable campaigner during my several opportunities to hear him speak recently. This will be a race to watch, and one that prospective Republican volunteers and donors should jump into.
While it’s unclear whether Republicans are going to be able to field a serious challenger to Sen. Maria Cantwell, and probably too early to ponder Republican congressional chances, some success seems all but assured. From my observations, and discussions with both long time volunteers and party officials there is certainly a general mood of optimism. Republicans are energized, less galvanized and ready to hit the ground running. The campaign season can’t start soon enough and Republicans are ready, willing and able to change the face of Washington State.
About the author
Adam Isackson currently resides in Tacoma, Washington where he has managed, worked on and volunteered for countless campaigns since the 90’s. Most recently managing the campaigns of now State Rep. Jan Angel (R), who took an open (D) seat in ’08, and who was resoundingly reelected in 2010. If you have any questions or comments you can contact the author at [email protected] or by calling 253-678-1707