A Big Win for Both Democrats and Republicans
The Democratic Party just won back significant federal power after it flipped the House. It needed a gain of 23 GOP-held seats—and have so far secured 27, with 22 races left. Suburbs came through big for Democrats, and challengers who did well successfully appealed to both far-left liberals and key moderate Democrats.
But the Republicans also had a good night. It not only held the Senate, it expanded its majority there. The races that drew funding and fanfare nationally—Beto O'Rourke in Texas, who challenged Ted Cruz—couldn't secure the win.
Pundits are now wondering whether that means a dismal outcome for Democrats in the 2020 presidential race; while the party's doing well in contests that are more focused locally (like House seats), it's struggling to garner support in the broader races—say, statewide Senate seats—that play far more on national politics.
What's it looking like in Washington? Democratic U.S. senator Maria Cantwell looks safe in her seat; she received 58.6 percent of support in the first night of returns against ex-state GOP party chair Susan Hutchison.
Among House races, voter turnout will ultimately determine the winners—and we won't know which voters turned out until late ballot counts.
But in the Eighth Congressional District, Democratic candidate Kim Schrier has a promising lead on Republican Dino Rossi in the Eighth Congressional District. Schrier's ahead by 6 percentage points with 53 percent of the votes, a wider gap than expected.
Southwest Washington's congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler has 52.3 percent of the votes over her Democratic challenger, Carolyn Long. And Eastern Washington's Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a senior ranking Republican member in the House, secured 56 percent support.
No surprises for Seattle's congressional delegates Pramila Jayapal in the Seventh Congressional District (83.4 percent support) and Adam Smith in the Ninth (70.1 percent).
Voters said no to the carbon fee initiative, despite efforts to make it more amenable to those who struck down the carbon tax measure in 2016. The I-1631 campaign faced an uphill battle with big oil spending $31.6 million against it and a negative perception of the earlier initiative in more rural areas of the state.
What's next for environmental activists? The initiative garnered national attention, as it would've made Washington the first state to enact a measure that addresses climate change. Governor Jay Inslee, eyeing a 2020 presidential campaign, has pushed the carbon tax in the past with no results—and he'll very likely already be thinking up a plan B, making this a must-watch issue in the upcoming state legislative session.
Cities and counties will no longer be able to tax soda, thanks to Initiative 1634—which bans local jurisdictions from enacting a tax on beverages or other grocery items. A direct response to Seattle's soda tax, the I-1634 campaign received a lot of funding from soda companies in efforts to pass yet another preemption law in the state.
Washington loves its initiatives on gun regulations. This year was no exception. Initiative 1639—which increases the age to purchase semiautomatic assault rifles to 21 and enacts comprehensive background checks—passed with 60.4 percent of statewide voters in favor.
It just got easier to prosecute police for use of deadly force. Initiative 940 passed with 59.2 percent support so far, and will remove the ability to use lack of "malice" as a defense for officers believed to have wrongly killed someone. It also mandates de-escalation training for cops, independent investigations in the case of deadly force, and first aid for victims. The campaign involved families who lost loved ones in the hands of police.
Seattle's Seven-Year, $600 Million-Plus Education Levy Passed
It offers two years of free community college for all public high school graduates, access to preschool education for more Seattle families, and programs meant to close the educational achievement gap for low-income, at-risk, and minority students. A household with a home of a median value of $665,000 will see their property tax increase by about $112 a year.
The State Legislature
State senator Joe Fain, who's facing a rape allegation by a Seattle woman, is winning by a thin margin. With just 50.3 percent of support, his Democratic challenger Mona Das could still close the gap.
Four state House seats currently held by the GOP are in serious trouble. Representatives Mark Miloscia from Federal Way, Chad Magendanz and Paul Graves from Fall City, and Mark Hargrove from Covington are all significantly trailing their Democratic opponents. The trifecta will not only stay, but the state Democratic Party's expected to extend its lead in the narrow majorities.
And Joe Nguyen will be the first Vietnamese state legislator in Washington and first person of color to represent the 34th Legislative District, which includes West Seattle, White Center, Burien, and Vashon Island. He faced Shannon Braddock—who ran for a city council seat against Lisa Herbold—in the general election but received a comfortable 57.4 percent of votes Tuesday night.