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The state of Washington has nine congresspersons, divided between six Democrats and three Republicans. Four of the six Democrats have safe/solid seats. Two of the three Republicans are safe/solid and will probably be re-elected. One seat (currently Dem) is considered a toss-up; two (one Dem, one Rep) have a slight chance of flipping.

I started with the idea of covering all nine races. However, because the diary has grown to a relatively large size, I’ll be focusing on districts 3, 8, and 2 – the ones with the most competitive races.

If you’d like to know more about the WA congressional races, I’ll tell you more under the fold.

Let’s begin with a map of Washington (from the Cook Political Report):

Note that the congressional districts 4 and 5 are solid red (Republican). Both are east of the Cascade mountains. They’re mostly rural, mostly dry, mostly desert. Small towns and lots of farmers.

Congressional districts 1, 6, 7, and 9 are solid blue (Democratic). West of the Cascades, with urban areas, around Puget Sound, on the coast. They’re fairly wet and rainy (there’s a major rainforest in on the peninsula in district 6), with lots of people.

Here’s a list of the six biggest cities in WA, with population and congressional district:

  1. Seattle   617,334 – CD 7
  1. Spokane   203,276 – CD 5
  1. Tacoma   199,637 – CD 6
  1. Vancouver   165,809 – CD 3
  1. Bellevue   126,626 – CD 8
  1. Everett   99,384 – CD 2

The Cook Political Report says Congressional District 3 – which is the only open seat in WA – could go either way. And CD 2 (light blue) and CD 8 (light red) might switch. Let’s look at the contested districts first.

WA-03 Rep. Brian Baird-D (retiring)

COOK: Toss Up (D+0)

First, the recent election results:

It would seem to be a Democratic district, at least when people are voting for the House of Representatives. However, the district has voted for Republicans: They went for G.W. Bush in both 2000 and 2004, and for Dino Rossi for Governor in 2004 and 2008. It’s heartening to note that WA-03 went for Barack Obama in 2008 (52-46%).

Baird is retiring, so this is an open seat. Craig Pridemore was the generally acknowledged progressive/liberal, but he withdrew from the race in June and gave his support to Denny Heck, who will probably be the Democratic candidate. According to this article about FEC filings, the major candidates have these amounts of cash on hand:

Denny Heck (D) $950,162
Jaime Herrera (R) $377,415
David Castillo (R) $245,334
David Hedrick (R/Teaparty) $41,358

There are also a handful of other candidates who are considered longshots and don’t have much money.

According to his campaign website, Denny Heck has a long history in Democratic politics. He was the chief of staff for Governor Booth Gardner, was elected to five terms in the state House of Representatives, was an early investor in Realnetworks (which is where Senator Maria Cantwell once worked), and started the TVW channel (best described as Washington’s statewide version of C-SPAN).

Among the Republican contenders, Herrera is a state Representative, Castillo is a financial consultant, and Hedrick is a former marine and darling of the teabaggers.

In June, Herrera released an in-house poll (story here) that said she was favored over the other Republicans. It also said that 42% would vote for a generic Republican and 35% for a Democrat, 3% neither, with 20% undecided. That’s a lot of undecideds. Here’s my favorite biased question from the poll:

When asked: "Who would you prefer to represent you in Congress? A Republican member of Congress who will be a check and balance to Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi, or a Democrat member of Congress who will help Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats pass their agenda?" 49 percent said they would prefer a Republican, 41 percent said they would favor a Democrat, and 10 percent said they did not know.

The biggest city in WA-03 is Vancouver, WA. It’s pretty much a suburb of Portland, Oregon. But it attracts some people who hate to pay taxes. Oregon has an income tax but no sales tax. Washington has a sales tax but no income tax. You can live and work in Vancouver (and pay no income tax) and then buy stuff in Portland (where there's no sales tax).

WA-08 Rep. Dave Reichert-R

COOK: Likely R (D+3)

Here are the results from the last eight elections:

The district has been growing steadily more Democratic over the years. If you look at the Presidential elections, the district has voted for the Democrat in the last three elections. Gore won WA-08 in 2000 by 2%, Kerry won in 2004 by 3%, and Obama won in 2008 by a whopping 15%.

It looks like Reichert’s opponent will be Suzan DelBene (described by some as "Darcy Burner 2.0," since both of them worked at Microsoft, so you need to add a number and a decimal point). According to recent FEC filings, both DelBene and Reichert have around $1 million cash on hand.

If you look at the three Republican Representatives from Washington, this district is the one where Democrats have the best chance of flipping the seat. And it’s heartening to know that DCCC has listed WA-08 on their Red-To-Blue list.

DelBene’s campaign website is here. She’s also a Daily Kos contributor (here’s a diary from June).

For more details about the district, see my diary from last December (WA-08: Can The Democrats Oust Reichert?).

WA-02 Rep. Rick Larsen-D

COOK: Likely D (D+3)

Here are the last eight elections in WA-02:

I’m not sure why Cook isn’t calling this a solid Democratic seat. Larsen has won his last three elections by comfortable margins and I don’t know of any scandals. His likely Republican opponent is a teabaggerish guy named John Koster, who has been endorsed by Sarah Palin on both Facebook and Twitter. Palin describes him as a "pro-family, pro-business, rock-solid commonsense conservative!"

Also, Larsen’s FEC filings show him with $834,000 cash on hand. Koster has $211,000. However, the NRCC has listed this as a seat that can be flipped, so Koster will probably get some financial help from them.

Larsen’s campaign website can be found here.

NOTE: For the rest of the six Congressional Districts, which are all considered pretty safe, I’ll just show you the nifty little graph of previous votes and maybe write a sentence or three.

WA-06 Rep. Norman Dicks-D

COOK: Solid D (D+5)

WA-09 Rep. Adam Smith-D

COOK: Solid D (D+5)

WA-05 Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers-R

COOK: Solid R (R+7)

This seat once belonged to Tom Foley, the Speaker of the House. He lost in the 1994 Contract With America slaughter.

In the chart below, she’s called Cathy McMorris. She married a guy named Rodgers a few years ago and became Cathy McMorris Rodgers. She's the only woman of the nine House members, but WA does have a female Governor and two female Senators, so it balances out.

WA-01 Rep. Jay Inslee-D

COOK: Solid D (D+9)

WA-04 Rep. Doc Hastings-R

COOK: Solid R (R+13)

This guy is the Republican Congressman from WA I despise the most. Back when the Republicans had the majority in the House, Hastings was chairman of the House Ethics Committee and he basically stonewalled all investigations of Republicans. He’s a lizard. I’d dearly love to see him lose. But he’s ensconced in a solidly Republican district:

WA-07 Rep. Jim McDermott-D

COOK: Solid D (D+31)

According to Cook, of the 435 congressional districts, McDermott’s is one of the 25 safest districts. And I’m proud to say that I vote for him every two years. In fact, WA-07 is so Democratic that it wouldn’t surprise me if McDermott’s opponent in the general election was another Democrat or a Green or a Socialist. (There’s a section below that explains the new top-two primary system.) Here are McDermott’s numbers:

How Primaries Work in WA

I’ve lived here for over 20 years and I’ve seen the evolution (or dissolution) of how parties picked their candidates. At one time, the Democrats and Republicans had precinct caucuses and district conventions and state conventions. So the parties had the power to pick their own candidates.

One year the supporters of Pat Buchanan got organized and took over the state Republican convention and nominated a slate of lunatics. So the Republicans decided to switch to a primary system for picking their candidates. The Democrats kept the caucus/convention system. But a problem arose. Democrats could go to the caucus and pick the best Democratic candidate, and then Democrats could vote in the Republican Primary and choose the most idiotic candidate – the one most likely to lose. Republicans hated this idea.

I should mention that the state of Washington has never asked voters to register their party preference – and whenever the idea comes up, the independent voters claim that they want to vote for the best person. They don’t want the government to force them to declare their loyalty to Democrats or Republicans. But the independent voters also want to vote in primary elections.

So the legislature passed various laws and the political parties filed lawsuits and everybody had a big old fight.

What we ended up with was the top-two primary. Everyone who wants to be Governor or Senator or Congressperson is listed on the primary ballot. The top two vote-getters face off in the general election.

So, if you’re a Democrat living in Doc Hastings’s district, you might not be able to vote for a Democrat in the general election. You might have to choose between two Republicans. Or you might have to choose between a Republican and a Teabagger.

Or, if you’re in Jim McDermott’s district, the general election might feature two Democrats. Or a Democrat versus a Green. Or a Democrat versus a Socialist.

Or, if you’re a Democrat in District 3, where there’s basically one Democrat and three Republicans, you could assume the Democrat will be in the top two and, in the primary, vote for the crazy teabagger, who’s the weakest candidate. Then you vote for the Democrat in the general election.

How Redistricting Works in WA

Washington state currently has nine representatives in Congress. People who understand demographics have said that WA has a good chance of gaining a representative after the 2010 Census. If we don’t get another one after the 2010 Census, then we’ll certainly get one in 2020. Here’s how the boundaries will be drawn.

Every ten years, when the official Census is finished, the state of Washington sets up a redistricting commission to do two things: draw new boundaries for the state legislature districts and draw new boundaries for the U.S. House districts.

The majority and minority leaders of the State House and State Senate each appoint one member to the commission, which means there is an even split – two Democrats and two Republicans. These four people then select a fifth non-voting chairperson to lead them. He or she is the boss, but he/she doesn’t get a vote.

Here are the general rules:

Districts shall have nearly equal population;
District lines should coincide with local political subdivisions (such as city and county lines) and "communities of interest";
Districts should be convenient, contiguous (share a common land border or transportation route), and compact;
Districts must not favor or discriminate against one political party or group;
District divisions should encourage electoral competition.

Once the commission comes up with a plan, the legislature votes on it, but it takes a 2/3 majority to modify the plan. After the legislature passes the redistricting bill, the Governor can’t veto the bill. It’s really pretty fair and bipartisan. It prevents gerrymandering.

Originally posted to Dbug on Fri Jul 23, 2010 at 02:57 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar for Evergreen State Democrats (19+ / 0-)

    and a shout out to my Washington blogger friends.

    Consider this an open forum to discuss WA congressional politics. I probably missed some stuff.

    It's 3 AM here. I'll probably stick around for an hour or so to read comments, go to bed, and then come back in the morning.

    "You might very well think that; I couldn't possibly comment." - PM Francis Urquhart (BBC's "House of Cards")

    by Dbug on Fri Jul 23, 2010 at 02:57:10 AM PDT

    •  Thanks! I miss Seattle. n/t (6+ / 0-)

      "My voice just echos off these walls...." -- NIN

      by MotherTrucker on Fri Jul 23, 2010 at 03:24:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Great diary on WA State elections - BUT (4+ / 0-)

      Sorry, but your premise "But it attracts Republicans who hate to pay taxes." is, unfortunately, false.

      From the diary:

      The biggest city in WA-03 is Vancouver, WA. It’s pretty much a suburb of Portland, Oregon. But it attracts Republicans who hate to pay taxes. Oregon has an income tax but no sales tax. Washington has a sales tax but no income tax. So you can work in Portland and live in Vancouver. You buy stuff in Portland (no sales tax) and live across the river in Vancouver (no income tax).

      I don't know if you are a Washingtonian, or not, but regarding the OR State income tax and living in WA State:

      If you work in OR State, you still have to pay the OR State income tax, even if you are not an OR State resident (i.e., you live in WA State). Income tax, as defined in OR State, is a tax on the income earned while working in OR State regardless of your State of residence.

      AND - if you live in OR, but shop in one of WA State's border counties (I believe it is seven of them), you can present your photo ID and the WA State sales tax is waived.

      Why? WA State legislation decided it was better to allow border counties to be 'sales tax neutral', to make shopping there attractive to OR shoppers, who pay no sales tax in their state.

      Sucks, but it's true. I know it, because I've been living with it my entire life here in SW WA.

      •  Thanks for the correction, Angie (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Chinton, millwood, princesspat

        I made a slight edit to that paragraph. Technically, if a Washingtonian buys something in Oregon, they're supposed to pay Washington sales tax on it, but no one seems to do it unless it's something like an automobile (which has to get license plates in WA).

        I'm not sure where I heard that Vancouverites didn't have to pay OR income tax -- probably some sort of urban legend.

        "You might very well think that; I couldn't possibly comment." - PM Francis Urquhart (BBC's "House of Cards")

        by Dbug on Fri Jul 23, 2010 at 07:56:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Vancouverites don't have to pay OR taxes (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          happymisanthropy, Dbug

          if they don't work in OR. So some file OR tax returns and some don't. Pensions and investment income are taxable to your state of residence (or not if WA, NV, TX and a couple others with no state income tax) but earnings are taxable where earned.

          I'm not a Limousine Liberal; I am a Prius Progressive

          by Zack from the SFV on Sat Jul 24, 2010 at 12:07:35 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I've heard (but I don't know for sure) (0+ / 0-)

            That income taxes for baseball players can get complicated. Some states collect income tax from players on visiting teams. So if the Seattle Mariners play the Yankees at Yankee stadium, the Seattle players might have to pay tax on the small percentage of their income earned in NY state.

            And it can add up. If the Mariners have a payroll of, say, $100 million (which they did a few years ago) and they play, say, 8 of 162 games in NY, let's call that about 5% of 100 million, or roughly $5 million. If the NY state income tax rate is, let's say, 10%, then New York could collect half a million from the M's. On the other hand, New York would lose the income tax from Derek Jeter when he plays in Chicago or Oakland.

            "You might very well think that; I couldn't possibly comment." - PM Francis Urquhart (BBC's "House of Cards")

            by Dbug on Sat Jul 24, 2010 at 01:50:34 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yes, that is true (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Dbug

               and for some baseball players (as well as footballers, basketball players and others) that could give an incentive to move to  a team in a state without an income tax (Hello, LeBron James in tax free FL).

                 I've never had a bigtime athlete as a tax client, but I have had actors and musicians who had income from different states. It does get complicated; you have to file a bunch of nonresident returns for different states then try to separate out the income correctly so that they are not double-taxed on the income.

                (Sorry about the delay in responding but yesterday was my birthday and I was mostly offline.)

              I'm not a Limousine Liberal; I am a Prius Progressive

              by Zack from the SFV on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 11:45:15 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  Everyone in the area scams the sytem. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dbug

        But, it is still illegal.  If you make a make a major purchase, say a refridgerator in Portland, you are supposed to pay the sales tax in Washngton.  It's all wink-wink. It's the only benefit to living in that no-where town.  

  •  A shout right back! (5+ / 0-)

    I'm in the 6th District, pretty solid for Dicks. I got involved in local politics back in '98 when we started gearing up for Gore's campaign (insert sob here). I was taken under the wing of one of our veteran operatives here in the 35th LD; Virginia McKenna. She taught me pretty well. I started as a Precinct Committee Officer and worked up to Treasurer for the District. My rpoudest moment was when I was invited to a to-do at the Governor's mansion. That was when Gary Locke was still in there. I've been on the sidelines since I got ill in '04 but I still keep an eye on things.

    Nice to know another WA blogger :)

    Beyond petroleum my ass! ~ Rachel Maddow

    by Purple Priestess on Fri Jul 23, 2010 at 03:21:22 AM PDT

  •  Talk about a loaded question... (5+ / 0-)

    When asked: "Who would you prefer to represent you in Congress? A Republican member of Congress who will be a check and balance to Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi, or a Democrat member of Congress who will help Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats pass their agenda?" 49 percent said they would prefer a Republican, 41 percent said they would favor a Democrat, and 10 percent said they did not know.

    I'm amazed they only got 49% from that!

    Thanks for the view up north.

    Slight correction, though - Vancouverites who live there but work in Portland do have to pay Oregon state income tax.  So, they hate us DFHs down here in Portland even more for that...

    ;)

    The real 'benefit' to living across the river comes to those who don't work here, but who can enjoy their proximity to and the prosperity and culture of Portland (and Washington's considerably weaker land use laws), and also of course Oregon's lack of sales tax.

    It's been interesting watching Vancouver politics lately, actually.  The new mayor who bumped off long-time incumbent Royce Pollard last year just flip-flopped on pretty much the main issue that got him elected in the first place, accepting tolls on the new CRC...

    "My country is the earth, and I am a citizen of the world." - Eugene Debs

    by JayinPortland on Fri Jul 23, 2010 at 03:41:33 AM PDT

    •  Wow... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      millwood, Dbug

      WA-07 is even less competitive than my CD (OR-03), huh?

      Earl only gets about 72 - 75% down here...

      "My country is the earth, and I am a citizen of the world." - Eugene Debs

      by JayinPortland on Fri Jul 23, 2010 at 03:54:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  My grandparents moved to Portland (5+ / 0-)

      during the Great Depression. My grandpa was a carpenter there and my mimi worked in the shipyards as a welder during WWII. I still have lots of relatives there, from Gresham in the east to Hillsboro in the west.

      The one thing I'm jealous of is the light rail system. In Seattle, we're just figuring out how to do mass transit. Portland is 20-30 years ahead of us.

      Powell's Books is another amazing part of Portland.

      ---

      I didn't know that Vancouverites had to pay income tax in Portland. Thanks for that info.

      "You might very well think that; I couldn't possibly comment." - PM Francis Urquhart (BBC's "House of Cards")

      by Dbug on Fri Jul 23, 2010 at 04:02:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Another interesting random tax oddity... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        millwood, princesspat, Dbug

        Oregon residents don't have to pay sales tax on certain purchases (pretty much everything besides food and hotels) in Washington State.

        I wonder how many people take advantage of that, or even know about it?

        "My country is the earth, and I am a citizen of the world." - Eugene Debs

        by JayinPortland on Fri Jul 23, 2010 at 04:17:55 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  again, that only applies in certain (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          millwood, JayinPortland, Dbug

          border counties, the sales tax waivers for Oregon (and, I believe, Idaho) residents who shop in those Washington border counties.

          •  Actually... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Dbug

            ...the link (State of Washington site) lists -

            Alaska
            Colorado
            Delaware
            Montana
            New Hampshire
            Oregon
            American Samoa
            Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands
            Guam
            Virgin Islands
            Alberta
            Northwest Territories
            Nunavut
            Yukon Territory

            Is that wrong?

            "My country is the earth, and I am a citizen of the world." - Eugene Debs

            by JayinPortland on Fri Jul 23, 2010 at 07:13:04 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  I think waiving the sales tax is optional (3+ / 0-)

            About ten years ago I managed a book store in Seattle and a customer from Alaska insisted that he didn't have to pay sales tax (on a $10 book). So I checked the laws of WA and, basically, stores can waive the sales tax for out of state residents or they can choose not to. It's up to the individual store owner. Of course, stores in the border counties probably waive the sales tax because it brings in customers.

            Also, this was ten or twelve years ago. It's possible the law has changed since then.

            "You might very well think that; I couldn't possibly comment." - PM Francis Urquhart (BBC's "House of Cards")

            by Dbug on Fri Jul 23, 2010 at 08:01:59 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Nice to see another person covering (8+ / 0-)

    the House races

    We all differ in ways that matter. But we're all the same in the ways that matter most.

    by plf515 on Fri Jul 23, 2010 at 05:07:57 AM PDT

  •  Great wrap up diary. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    millwood, princesspat, Dbug

    tipped and recced. Everybody who cares should tip and rec every election diary on DKos. It would help in November I think.

    Tip and rec the election diaries. Let's build momentum starting now.

    by reddbierd on Fri Jul 23, 2010 at 08:19:39 AM PDT

  •  Thanks Dbug....I live in Rick Larsen's (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dbug

    district. I certainly hope his seat is securely Democratic! Thanks again for the interesting diary.

    Thank you Diary Rescue!

    Love is the lasting legacy of our lives

    by princesspat on Fri Jul 23, 2010 at 09:57:30 PM PDT

  •  I'm in the north end of the 3rd (0+ / 0-)

    Can't say I'm sorry to see Baird go.  He was one of the assholes voting no for unemployment extensions.  Unfortunately I am not thrilled with Heck but I do want the guy that will be "a Democrat member of Congress who will help Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats pass their agenda?"

  •  Terrific round-up, Dbug, thanks! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bwren, Dbug

    I'm in Seattle (Ballard), and really appreciate the overview.

    Would just LOVE to see Reichert lose that seat!  Darcy should have won either of her 2 races and be there already, but I'd certainly also be happy with DelBene.

    •  Thanks, confite, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bwren

      I'm a 20-year resident of Capitol Hill -- used to see former Governor Mike Lowry at a local restaurant. I like Ballard, but don't get up there much. I think the last time I was there was for the Syttende Mai (Norwegian Constitution Day) parade.

      "You might very well think that; I couldn't possibly comment." - PM Francis Urquhart (BBC's "House of Cards")

      by Dbug on Sat Jul 24, 2010 at 01:21:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  A big thank you for this diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dbug

    from a Dem in Bellevue!

    •  You're welcome (0+ / 0-)

      Glad you liked it (and glad the rescue rangers liked it).

      I'm keeping my fingers crossed for DelBene.

      "You might very well think that; I couldn't possibly comment." - PM Francis Urquhart (BBC's "House of Cards")

      by Dbug on Sat Jul 24, 2010 at 01:22:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Who can explain Dave Reichart to me? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dbug

    The man came to office because he "solved" the Green River Murder Case. Well, sort of. It took him twenty years (literally) to do it and most of the work was done by a Seattle P.I. reporter.  Congressman Reichart is very pretty (I'd do him), but, trust me, the man is as gapingly dumb as a spent salmon after spawning.  The fine folk of the Eastide love the Bush tax cuts.  None of their kids are in uniform in Irag or Afghanistan.  Vote for Dave, keep your tax cuts and leave military service to the fools at Fort Lewis.

    BTW, doesn't McDermott have a primary challenger this year?

    •  Dave Reichert got elected as a Republican (0+ / 0-)

      in a traditionally Republican district -- plus he "solved" the Green River murders.

      For people who don't know about the Green River killer, Gary Ridgway, he was a serial killer who's blamed for 49 murders in the Seattle area. Reichert was the King County Sheriff who eventually caught him (after about 20 years). Our other famous serial killer was Ted Bundy, who only killed 36 (that we know of).

      Reichert isn't very smart, but he's good looking and can put words together into a spoken sentence. I think his district is gradually turning Democratic. If you look at Jennifer Dunn's elections, she won by a ton. Reichert barely gets 50%. I think he could lose in 2010 (or 2012 or 2014).

      ---

      I haven't been paying much attention to McDermott's race even though he's my representative. He consistently gets 70-80% of the vote. The Republican party of WA has a website listing all of their candidates and they don't have anyone listed for WA-07. There are probably some fringe candidates challenging him, but I just don't know.

      "You might very well think that; I couldn't possibly comment." - PM Francis Urquhart (BBC's "House of Cards")

      by Dbug on Sat Jul 24, 2010 at 01:38:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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