Evan Smith: 2014: The year the election skipped us

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

By Evan Smith

November 4 was the mid-term election, generally second only to the presidential election in voter interest. Not here – at least not this year.

All seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, a third of the spots in the U.S. Senate, all positions in the State House and half the seats in the State Senate were on the ballot. That got little attention here, with local congressional and legislative districts firmly in Democratic hands and U.S. Senate seats on the Washington ballot.

National Republicans took control of the U.S. Senate in an election that had Senate contests in more than two-thirds of the states. Washington was one of the other states.

Most states elected governors and other statewide officials. That included Oregon, Idaho, Alaska, California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio and Texas, but not Washington.

This kind of election comes to Washington every 12 years. It happened in 2002. It will happen again in 2026.

In 2004 and 2012, we voted for president, governor and U.S. senator. In 2006 and 2010, we had contests for Washington’s U.S. Senate positions. In 2008, races for president and governor topped the ballot.

In 2016 and 2024, we again will vote for president, governor and U.S. Senate positions. In 2018 and 2022, we’ll fill U.S Senate positions. In 2020, races for president and governor will top our ballots.

We had no statewide positions this year. Only some statewide initiatives got some interest.

The recent election gave Republicans firm control of the Washington state Senate, but control depended on results of a few “swing” districts. Our area got no attention because incumbent Democrats had only token opposition in both the 32nd and 46th legislative districts. Incumbent State Sen. Maralyn Chase won by a 71 percent to 28 percent margin over Republican Robert Reedy in Shoreline and rest of the 32nd District, and incumbent Democrat David Frockt had an 80 percent to 20 percent victory over Republican Van Sperry in Lake Forest Park and the rest of the 46th District.

The 32nd District includes Shoreline, part of northwest Seattle, Woodway and nearby unincorporated areas of south Snohomish County, south Edmonds, all of Lynnwood and part of Mountlake Terrace. The 46th District includes Lake Forest Park, Kenmore and northwest Seattle.

Republicans narrowed the Democrats’ lead in the state House of Representatives, but there was no competition here with 32nd District Democratic incumbent State Rep. Ruth Kagi leading Republican Alvin Rutledge 71 percent to 28 percent and incumbent 46th District Democrat Jessyn Farrell leading Republican Branden Curtis 82 percent to 18 percent, while 32nd District incumbent Democratic State Rep. Cindy Ryu and incumbent Democratic 46th District State Rep. Gerry Pollet both ran unopposed.

We didn’t have much to excite us at the Congressional level, with Democratic incumbent 7th District U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott defeating Republican Craig Keller 81 percent to 19 percent. The district includes Shoreline, Lake Forest Park, Edmonds, Woodway and nearby unincorporated areas of southwest Snohomish County, most of Seattle, and some of Seattle’s southwest suburbs.

McDermott was one of six incumbent Washington congressional Democrats winning with at least 55 percent of the vote, while each of three Washington incumbent Republicans has at least 60 percent.

The only exception was the vote to replace retiring Central Washington Republican U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings. There the top-two primary gave voters a choice between two Republicans, with establishment Republican Dan Newhouse defeating tea-party favorite Clint Didier by a 51-49 percent margin.

There was little at the county level. Washington decided eighty or ninety years ago to hold elections for state executive positions in presidential election years and for county positions in mid-term elections. That changed when King County and some other counties adopted home-rule charters and moved most county elections to odd-numbered years.

So, our area had little role in the 2014 mid-term election.

Our state and county could make the mid-term election more important.

One possible change could come from an amendment to the state constitution to move the elections for governor and other statewide positions from the presidential year to the mid-term year. Illinois made that change in the 1970s. That meant that after decades of electing governors in presidential years, the state elected a governor for a two-year term to allow a transition to four-year terms in mid-term years. Such a change in Washington would come the same way.

A similar amendment to the King County charter would move elections for some county offices from odd-numbered years to mid-term years.

Those are example of moves we could make to add balance among election years.

Evan Smith can be reached at schsmith@frontier.com.


Anonymous,  November 26, 2014 at 9:31 AM  

Evan, you need a civics lesson on the importance of voting.

Anonymous,  November 26, 2014 at 11:54 AM  

It must pain Evan to no end to report on Maralyn Chase in her highly successful primary and general election campaigns.

Anonymous,  November 26, 2014 at 10:57 PM  

Given Senator Chase's outspoken support of a public vote on city assumptions of water utilities, and given her trouncing of Deputy Mayor Eggen in the August Primary, Evan could have urged the City of Shoreline to make the November General Election both important and interesting by including the Ronald Wastewater District assumption as a ballot measure. But that measure never materialized, and so, in Evan's mind, the Shoreline election this mid-term was unimportant.

Anonymous,  November 28, 2014 at 1:22 AM  

A Bollywood actress was sentenced in Pakistan yesterday to 26 years in jail for blasphemy. I assure you, every election is important, even the ones in little ol' Shoreline.

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