Last month we examined the political climate in Oregon noting that in 2010, the Beaver State is “not your traditional swing state.” Head up I-5, and you’ll notice striking similarities between the happenings in Oregon and its neighbor to the north – Washington. Liberal Democrats occupy both U.S. Senate seats and six of the nine U.S. House seats, but a conservative resurgence could dramatically alter the Evergreen State’s political landscape moving forward.
2010 could prove to be a banner year for Washington Republicans. At the top of the ticket (a key indicator of down-ballot success), GOP Senate candidate Dino Rossi is battling entrenched Democrat incumbent Patty Murray in what many political pundits view as a “toss up” race. Republicans are also poised to flip Washington’s Third Congressional District. The August primaries have also boosted GOP hopes of making a comeback in both chambers of the state legislature.
On the House side, Democratic incumbents “failed to capture half the vote or were trailing their GOP challenger,” in several key districts across the state following the primaries. According to The Olympian, “powerful House Ways and Means chairwoman Kelli Linville, D-Bellingham, was losing to Republican Vincent Buys in Whatcom County’s 42nd district and other Democrats, such as Rep. John Driscoll of Spokane, were well below 50 percent of the vote.” These results led Kevin Carns, leader of the House Republican Organizational Committee to surmise “his party could gain six to 13 seats, reducing if not erasing the Democrats’ 61-37 advantage.”
One race in the lower chamber that could prove crucial in erasing the Dems’ advantage is the 48th House District (King County) where educator, community leader, and former federal prosecutor, Diane Tebelius is seeking to unseat incumbent Democrat Rep. Ross Hunter. Touting her varied leadership experiences, Tebelius is running on a conservative platform rooted in free enterprise, limited but effective government, job creation, educational investment and natural resource preservation.