Folks, we've got a big one here. In Washington's state Senate, there are 25 Democrats and 24 Republicans, but thanks to turncoat "Democrat" Tim Sheldon, Republicans have controlled the chamber since 2013. That ridiculous state of affairs—Washington is very blue, and both the governorship and state House are held by Democrats—might, however, finally be about to end.
Last October, Republican state Sen. Andy Hill, who represented a Democratic-leaning district northeast of Seattle, died of lung cancer; former state Sen. Dino Rossi, a fellow Republican who's unsuccessfully run for statewide office many times, was appointed in his stead. Democrats had vigorously challenged Hill in 2014, but his personal popularity (plus the GOP wave) allowed him to hang on by a 53-47 margin.
Now, though, there will be a special election this November, and Democrats have a very good chance at a pickup. This district, the 45th, voted for Hillary Clinton last year by an overwhelming 65-28 margin; four years earlier, it went for Barack Obama 58-40. When you add those numbers together with the intense progressive desire to strike back at Trump and the fact that control of the Senate—and with it, the entire state government—is at stake, you simply don't get a better opportunity.
What's more, Democrats just recruited a very strong candidate, prosecutor Manka Dhingra, while Republicans still haven't figured out who they're running. Rossi hasn't made up his mind, though it sounds like he's viewing the position as a placeholder job. But no matter who picks up the baton for the GOP, they're going to have a hell of a time hanging on to a seat where Trump got just 28 percent of the vote.
And if Democrats can win back the Senate, they'll be able to implement a host of progressive ideas that Republicans have stymied for years. It's no exaggeration to say that this race is going to be the top legislative contest of 2017, so strap in.
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