EVERETT — Commercials are over and concessions mostly made as ballot counting of the 2022 midterm election enters a second week.
So, it’s time to take stock of some of what transpired Nov. 8.
For example, we know Patty Murray, the tennis-shoe wearing Democratic powerhouse is heading back to the U.S. Senate for a sixth term. We know her win over Republican Tiffany Smiley wasn’t cheap or as easy as previous wins. What we don’t know is if Murray will be in the majority, or not.
Similarly, we know Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, Rep. Suzan DelBene and Rep. Kim Schrier are returning to Congress. We don’t know if their party will still hold the majority. Probably not.
Here are five other things worth talking about this election.
Months of endless pablum about political waves in midterm elections obscured the reality of another powerful predictor of election outcomes: incumbency.
Of 24 office-holders on ballots in Snohomish County on Tuesday — 18 state lawmakers, four members of Congress, the secretary of state and a public utility district commissioner — 22 got re-elected. That’s a 92% success rate. Add in judges and Supreme Court justices and the percentage grows.
For many incumbents, it’s not close. As a sample: DelBene and Larsen were above 60%, state Rep. Cindy Ryu, a Democrat, and Rep. Mike Steele, a Republican, were hovering around 80%, while Snohomish PUD Commissioner Tanya Olson was topping 70%.
Rep. Greg Gilday, R-Camano Island, could be the 23rd. His race was close and he came from behind to win two years ago.
Rep. Robert Sutherland, R-Granite Falls, is the only incumbent to have lost. And that seat stayed in Republican hands as the winner, Sam Low, is also a member of the Grand Old Party.
A first, for a second time
A year ago, Mary Fosse won a seat on the Everett City Council representing District 1. It was historic as this was the inaugural election of City Council members by districts in Everett.
This week, Fosse, a Democrat, won a seat in the state Legislature, succeeding the retiring Rep. Mike Sells in the 38th Legislative District. This victory may be historic, too. She intends to keep her council gig while carrying out her state lawmaking duties.
It’s legal. And she looks to be the first Everett City Council member to ever serve in the two posts simultaneously.
To pull it off, she may have to commute a lot unless her colleagues help out.
Current council rules limit members to attending one council meeting a month virtually. They must show up for the rest. Fosse proposed changes this week to make it easier to take part remotely. They didn’t pass. She’s likely to try again before she drives down for the 2023 legislative session in January.
The Donald effect lingers
This election once again showed it’s a challenge for Republicans to win legislative seats in an increasingly blue Snohomish County.
It’s even harder with former President Donald Trump a continuing force in the Grand Old Party. He’s wrecked the brand for many middle-of-the-road voters in Washington suburbs who might be open to a Republican candidate if they didn’t have such a bad feeling toward the party.
GOP leaders insist Washington has a different Republican Party, but their candidates couldn’t break through the static generated by the ex-president.
“We’re getting pummeled by Trump,” said Chad Minnick, a veteran Republican political consultant. “Voters are unhappy and afraid of what Republicans have become, and we’ve not been able to assuage their fears that that’s not us.”
Rep. Drew MacEwen, R-Union, who won a seat in the state Senate on Tuesday, echoed the sentiment.
“We can’t continue to litigate the past and expect to lead the future,” he said. “We’ve got work to do to regain the trust of voters.”
Democrats don’t deny the benefit of an unpopular Republican brand. But they also effectively organized around the issue of abortion rights to turn out voters and put GOP candidates on defense.
Redistricting helped, too. For example, the 44th Legislative District had been a swing district the past couple of decades. Contests for seats were expensive and close.
This year, incumbents won handily, pushing the district into safe Democratic territory for the foreseeable future, said Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, D-Seattle, who leads the House Democratic Campaign Committee.
Patience pays off
Inflation is high. A recession is looming. Yet on Tuesday, voters gave a thumbs-up to renewing a four-year property tax levy for the Monroe School District. This is the same one voters rejected in February.
One explanation is that the electorate understood the costs and benefits, and appreciated the district’s actions the past nine months.
It also might have helped that a lot more people voted this time.
In February, the measure lost by 540 votes out of 8,140 cast. As of Friday, there had been 13,076 ballots counted. And the measure was leading by 408.
Deniers deliver for Dems
Secretary of State Steve Hobbs and Democratic Party leaders owe Brad Klippert and his fellow election deniers a huge thank you. Without their help, Hobbs, of Lake Stevens, might not have defeated Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson. He might even be conceding to her.
Anderson, the nonpartisan challenger, is the one who conceded Thursday evening as she trailed by roughly 50,000 votes.
This was always going to be a close race. Without a Republican on the ballot, Anderson seemed certain to get the greater number of votes from Republicans who wouldn’t back a Democrat for this office that, until Hobbs, had been in GOP hands since the ’60s.
Enter Klippert, a conservative Republican state lawmaker, who launched a late write-in campaign for secretary of state. He called for ending mail-in voting, casting paper ballots in polling places and conducting a forensic audit of 2020 presidential election results because he thinks something fishy occurred. He offered conservative Republicans a third option. Many took it.
By Friday morning, nearly 86,000 ballots — roughly 4% of voters — had been cast for a write-in.