Wednesday, October 17, 2012
In the 113th Congress...
In case you’ve forgotten, I’d like to remind you that Washingtonians will elect 10 people to represent them in the House of Representatives in the upcoming 113th Congress. That, of course, is an increase of one over the nine Representatives we’ve sent to DC for the last 20 years.
Incumbents are running for reelection in seven of the redrawn Congressional Districts, and every one of them is all but certain to win. Therefore, I offer congratulations-in-advance to Rick Larsen, Jaime Herrera Beutler, Doc Hastings, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Jim McDermott, Dave Reichert, and Adam Smith ... the Representatives in, respectively, the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 7th, 8th, and 9th Districts. That’s three Democrats (Larsen, McDermott, Smith) and four Republicans (Herrera Bueutler, Hastings, McMorris Rodgers, Reichert).
But what of the two open, and one brand-new, seats?
It was widely acknowledged that the principal goal of the Democratic members of the Redistricting Commission was to center the new 10th CD on Olympia, and to anoint Denny Heck as their candidate. He faces underfunded Republican Dick Muri, who unsuccessful challenged Adam Smith in the old WA-09 two years ago. Well, it looks like Tim Ceis and Dwight Pelz got their wish, as the Cook Political Report rates WA-10 Solid D and DailyKos Elections calls it Likely D. The two organization agree that WA-01, where Suzan DelBene faces teahadist John Koster, Leans D.
The third open seat came as something of a shocker. Norm Dicks surprised many Washingtonians when he announced his retirement after 18 terms representing the 6th District. Conventional wisdom suggested that WA-06 had remained in Democratic hands largely because of Dicks’s seniority (ranking Democrat on the Appropriations Committee) and close ties to the strong Navy presence on Hood Canal and Puget Sound. The sprawling, largely rural WA-06 doesn’t fit the usual mold of Democratic CDs.
Well, conventional wisdom appears to have been wrong. Even though a Republican self-funding Weyerhaeuser relative is on the ballot, both Cook (Likely D) and dKos put the District strongly in the Democratic column. In fact, on Monday DailyKos Elections upgraded WA-06 from Likely D to Safe D.
The principal reason behind this happy outcome is the superb Democrat running in the 6th District, Derek Kilmer. I’ve known Derek ever since I arrived in Washington in 2001; at that time he and his wife Jen were colleagues of my sister in the 36th District Democrats. We in Seattle were disappointed when they relocated to Gig Harbor (he’s Vice President of the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County), but it was clearly the right thing for them. I’m thrilled that the people of WA-06 see the same positive qualities in Derek that I recognized.
When Derek won his first political race (State Rep from the 26th LD in 2004), I began thinking that he could be a great candidate to replace Norm Dicks when the old warhorse decided to hang ‘em up. I didn’t expect it to come quite so soon, but it seems like I was onto something.
So Derek will, in all likelihood, slide into Norm’s position as a Democratic Congressman. That leaves the overall status of Washington’s delegation in DC in the same place it was when the Redistricting Commission finished its work—five Democratic CDs, four Republican CDs, and one up for grabs. If, as most pundits predict, DelBene keeps the odious Koster away from DC, we’ll be 6-4 Democratic. Not nearly what I’d like it to be, but I believe that would be an accurate description of our state.