Next, a pat on the back and an attaboy to Peter Goldmark in WA-05, for a race well run.
Darcy and Peter didn't capture the two House seats we wanted, but their races were the catalysts for a smashing Democratic wipeout in the Evergreen State, led by U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell. No Democratic House incumbent won with less than 60 percent of the vote. But there's more.
Nowhere was this more evident than in the Districts where Peter and Darcy were on the ballot. In the State Senate race in the 6th Legislative District (Spokane County), Chris Marr upset the odious homophobe and Wal-Mart lackey Brad Benson, heretofore considered a "rising young conservative star." and Democrat Don Barlow took out Incumbent Republican John Serben to capture a House seat in the 6th.
In the Legislative Districts that make up the 8th Congressional District, the "coattails" were even more pronounced. We scored clean sweeps in the 45th, 47th, and 48th Legislative Districts, and made serious inroads in the 31st.
Results in the 48th were especially sweet. Former Republican State Representative Rodney Tom, who could no longer tolerate his party's reactionary drift, made his Democratic electoral debut a smashing one, capturing the Senate seat from the closeted gay homophobe and reactionary ideologue Luke Esser, crippling the political hopes of another "rising young conservative star." Former Kirkland Mayor Deb Eddy won Tom's former House seat handily. Incumbent Democratic Representative Ross Hunter, who had orchestrated much of this activity, cruised to victory with two-thirds of the vote.
Just to the east in the 45th, we scored another shocker in a former GOP stronghold. The Senate seat was vacant after Republican Senate Minority leader Bill Finkbeiner, a former Democrat, decided to retire after angering his party faithful by providing the key vote that finally, after 30 years of hard slogging, got sexual orientation written into the state's anti-discrimination laws.
Republican State Representative Toby Nixon, a hard-right corporatist who masquerades as a libertarian, stepped up to run for Finkbeiner's Senate seat, but ran into a liberal buzz saw in the dynamic Eric Oemig, who captured 54 percent of the vote in a District that Nixon had won twice. Democrat Roger Goodman overcame a nasty attack campaign to win Nixon's House seat with 55 percent of the vote. Incumbent Democratic Rep. Larry Springer cruised home with just under 60 percent of the vote.
The 47th might have been the sweetest of all. The right wing churches and the anti-union, land-raping Building Industry Association of Washington staked a lot on this District, pouring a lot of money and volunteers into these races. We smashed them utterly.
Reactionary GOP State Senator Stephen Johnson, heavily funded by the BIAW, gave up his State Senate seat to run for the State Supreme Court. He lost, big time, to incumbent Justice Susan Owens. Moreover, his Senate seat flipped almost entirely in this swing District. Meet Claudia Kauffman, to my knowledge the first Native American woman elected to a State Senate seat in Washington. It is a measure of growing Democratic strength in the 47th that Claudia had to survive a heated Democratic primary. The GOP candidate, Mike Riley, proved to be a nonentity.
Incumbent Democratic State Representatives Geoff Simpson and Pat Sullivan both won with 59 percent of the vote, but only after one of the nastiest smear campaigns in local memory. The GOP and the BIAW had targeted both Pat and Geoff, Geoff especially, with personal attacks and hate mail. I'd like to think that the vote totals represented people's total disgust with that kind of politics.
Farther south in the 31st District, where Republican legislators had run unopposed in 2004, attorney Yvonne Ward once again was "close, but no cigar" in a repeat of her 2002 attempt to defeat the notorious GOP Senator Pam "La Cucaracha" Roach. But Roach, a skilled politician who somehow gets a lot of union endorsements (I'm talking to you, state employees!) eked out another close one, as did her son, Dan "Larva" Roach, in the House. But Black Diamond cop Chris Hurst returned to the House after a four-year absence, knocking off GOP "church lady" Jan Shabro, who had run unopposed two years ago.
These races in the 48th, 47th, 45th, and the 31st Districts might not have been won except for the presence of the Darcy Burner campaign. Her volunteers were on the ground, at people's doors, on their phones, and in their faces. And her staff was a great bunch, one of the best I have worked with. Democrats in the 8th CD owe Darcy a great debt, as she owes them one.
Voters delivered another huge upraised middle finger to the GOP and the BIAW in suburban Tacoma's 28th District by re-electing freshman Rep. Tami Green, a powerful voice for labor, who had been their top target statewide. Tami cruised home with 55 percent of the vote with a strong boost from union volunteers. Joining her in the House will be teacher and small business owner Troy Kelley. This heavily militarized (Fort Lewis, McChord AFB) district was Dead Red only four years ago.
We scored another clean sweep just to the north in the 26th District, another one that had been targeted by the BIAW and especially the religious right. GOP Senator Bob Oke, far from the worst Republican in the state, retired due to health reasons, and first-term Democratic State Rep. Derek Kilmer stepped into the breach. Republican Jim Hines beat former state Rep. and religious right whack job Lois McMahan in the primary, but Kilmer trounced him, getting 60 percent of the vote. Keep your eye on this guy.
Democratic State Rep. Pat Lantz had a far easier campaign than she had had previously, winning with 58 percent of the vote, and former battleship commander Larry Seaquist nailed down the 26th's delegation for the Dems.
To the north in the ferry-dependent 23rd, Democrat Christine Rolfes trounced three-term incumbent Beverly Woods, capturing 55 percent of the vote. I had heard a lot of static about Woods on the right-wing blogs, with several lackwits saying she wasn't conservative enough and that they wouldn't vote for her. Now they don't have to.
The second time was the charm for Democratic firefighter Kevin Van DeWege in the far-flung, logging-dependent 24th District, as he knocked off five-term incumbent Jim Buck, joining Sen. Jim Hargrove and House Majority Leader Lynn Kessler in an all-Democratic Delegation.
And in Snohomish County, north of Seattle, moderate Democrat Steve Hobbs survived a spirited primary race, then scored a smashing upset win over GOP Senator Dave Schmidt, who before his Senate term had served the 44th for four terms in the House.
Even in races where Democratic challengers fell short, in many of them they came darned close. At least two races are headed for recounts. More on those as events develop.
Initiative 920, which would have repealed the state's estate tax, crashed, burned and died, as did the odious Initiative 933, a Howard Rich brainchild, which I called "welfare for land rapers." Initiative 937, which mandates renewable energy, is passing narrowly but should prevail.
No mention of this election here in WA would be complete without a tip of the hat and heartfelt thanks to our tireless and irrepressible local political bloggers, like Goldy at Horse's Ass, Andrew and the gang at Northwest Progressive Institute, Lynn Allen and the seven dwarfs at Evergreen Politics, Darryl at Hominid Views, Noemie, Brian, Switzer, and the gang (yikes, that includes me!) at Washblog, and many more.
It's a great day to be a Democrat, but we can't stop now. See you tonight, because it's right back to work!