1. The balance of power in the state senate is riding on the outcome of the race between Republican incumbent state Sen. Don Benton (R-17, Vancouver) and Democratic challenger state Rep. Tim Probst (D-17, Vancouver). Probst currently leads Benton by 16 votes. Clark County will announce the results of the latest count this afternoon. But given the current margin, a re-count is likely.
If Probst eventually wins, the Democrats will have a comfy 27-22 margin, but if Benton wins, the Democrats will have a shaky 26-23 margin, enabling the two conservative members of the Democratic caucus—Sens. Tim Sheldon (D-35, Potlatch) and Rodney Tom (D-48, Bellevue)—to wield power and capsize the Democrats' majority.
Sheldon and Tom told The Tacoma News Tribune that if Benton wins they are planning to push for a power sharing agreement where Republicans would head up some committees.
It's not clear if that strategy could also impact senate leadership positions such as senate majority leader. Sheldon and Tom may try to force the selection to the senate floor. Currently, senate rules say leaders, as opposed to committee chairs, are chosen in caucus.
Seattle Democrat, state Sen. Ed Murray (D-43, Seattle), is putting his name up for consideration as majority leader to his caucus today.
Speaking of Democratic money going to Republican causes...
This all raises a question for Tom. Since switching from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party in 2006, he has gotten nearly $200,000 in contributions from the Democratic Party and the caucus' political committee.
If he's planning on nuking Democratic control, will he return the money to the Party?
2. Speaking of Democratic money going to Republican causes, Fizz wonders if Washington State Democratic Party Chair Dwight Pelz, Democratic state Sen. David Frockt (D-46, N. Seattle), or state Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D-36, Queen Anne) realize that the Scott White Memorial PAC—a political action committee started in honor of former north Seattle state Sen. White who died in late 2011—made a last-minute contribution to Republican attorney general candidate Reagan Dunn.
Pelz ($200), Carlyle ($250), and Frockt ($100) all donated to the White committee, which otherwise backed Democrats such as, well, Carlyle. (Mostly, the committee spent its money backing Democratic insurgent Sylvester Cann, a former White aide who was challenging Democratic incumbent state Rep. Gerry Pollet (D-46, N. Seattle). Pollet won handily.)
The Democratically funded White committee donated $250 to Dunn in the final week of the campaign. Dunn lost to Democrat Bob Ferguson.
White and Ferguson butted heads at the council when White was chief of staff there.
3. Speaking of Ferguson, we have another name to add to the list of hopefuls trying to fill Ferguson's vacancy on the King County Council: Chuck Sloane, a current Deputy King County ombudsman and chair of the Municipal League of King County.
King County Executive Dow Constantine will send three names to the council, and they will decide on one as Ferguson's replacement.
The other people going for the spot are: Rod Demobowski, an attorney at Foster Pepper and close friend of Ferguson; State Rep. Cindy Ryu (D-32, Shoreline); Keith Scully, trial lawyer and former Futurewise attorney; Will Hall, a Shoreline City Council member; and Republican Dave Baker, the mayor of Kenmore.