Election 2012

One of Last Night's Biggest Winners Wasn't Even on the Ballot

By Josh Feit November 7, 2012

We  sized up a couple of winners (and losers) from last night's election in Fizz this morning. A few more have emerged. And one of them wasn't even on the ballot. The other one was, of all things, a Republican:

1. State Sen. Ed Murray (D-43, Seattle)

He wasn't on the ballot last night, but Murray was perhaps the evening's biggest winner.

Last night's election gave the thumbs up to gay marriage legislation and (if the numbers hold) not only affirmed the Democratic majority in the state senate, but made it a working majority. (Last year's 27-22 majority actually translated into a 25-24 GOP advantage because three conservative Democrats often crossed sides.) The new 27-22—which is still riding on a win in Vancouver's 17th Legislative District where Democratic state Rep. Tim Probst is leading incumbent Republican state Sen. Don Benton—would only have two blacksheeps, giving the Democrats a cushion.

Arguably Election 2012's biggest local winner, Murray is set up to be a bigger winner in 2013.

Why does all this make Democratic state Sen. Murray in particular a winner?

First, Murray sponsored the gay marriage bill—the capstone legislation in his long, patient fight for gay rights, which began in earnest when he passed the gay civil rights bill in January 2006 and continued as he ushered through a series of domestic partners bills that withstood a referendum of their own, R-71 in 2009.

Beyond being a satisfying personal win for Murray, the historic gay marriage law will be a popular and heroic win Murray can hype on his resume next year in his rumored run for Seattle mayor.

As for the working majority? Murray is slated to be the new state senate majority leader next year. On top of the yoeman's legislative work he's already done as the Democrats' budget leader in Olympia (as ways and means chair, Murray restored education and social services money to the budget that the Republican coup decimated) and coupled with his past wonk work as house transportation chair passing the nickel tax for major transporation infrastructure fixes in 2003, Murray is likely to have the numbers to get more progressive legislation passed this year.

Coming off a bold legislative session next April will be the perfect springboard for Murray to jump into the mayor's race; as if the guy needs any more momentum after last night's monumental win.

Arguably Election 2012's biggest local winner, Murray is set up to be a potential bigger winner in 2013.

2. State Sen. Steve Litzow (R-41, Mercer Island)

How could a Republican possibly be considered a winner right now? For starters, click on the link above to the article about Murray's gay marriage legislation. Scroll down past the photo of Murray to the next photo. There's Litzow.

Indeed, Litzow was one of four Republicans that voted for the gay marriage bill. Litzow is also a former board member at NARAL Pro-Choice Washington's political committee. Unlike Rob McKenna's stiff "pro-choice" position and McKenna's begrudging promise to support the will of the people on gay marriage, Litzow is truly liberal on big social issues (he also supported medical marijuana legislation).

He was also endorsed by the Washington Conservation Voters in his race this year against liberal Democratic challenger Maureen Judge. (Litzow got an 80 percent rating from WCV; and no wonder—the guy went as far as to support hippie legislation such as green Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon's, D-34, Burien, complete streets bill).

As for his race against Judge last night (in which Democratic state Rep. Deb Eddy was his campaign chair), he's winning 53.5 to 46.4.

If Washington State Republican Chair Kirby Wilbur is thinks last night didn't bode well for the GOP, he should look at the results in the 41st. Litzow emerged last night as the future of the Party.

For a party that's searching for a direction right now—the answer is staring them in the face. Here's a Republican that can win in King County. (The Party's supposed savior, McKenna, is currently getting trounced in King County.)

This doesn't mean Litzow's a RINO, though. He got a lowly 25 percent rating from the Washington State Labor Council last year (in part due to his lead on cutting workers benefits) and a 90 percent rating from the Washington National Federation of Independent Business. Case in point: Litzow was 100 percent with the GOP on last year's budget coup—going as far as to tarnish his pro-choice credentials by abandoning the Democrats on a procedural motion to put the Reproductive Parity Act on the table in order to save the GOP budget play.

He's also a big ed reformer and charter schools fan.

Ask any Democratic consultant in town: A true social liberal who's conservative on economic issues is a nightmare to beat.

If Washington State Republican Chair Kirby Wilbur thinks last night didn't bode well for the GOP, he should look at the results in the 41st. Litzow emerged last night as the future of the Party.

3. Pollsters

Several local pollsters came surprisingly close to predicting (or actually predicted) election results in key Washington State races last night—not Nate Silver territory, but not bad, either.

With the caveat that results are still rolling in, here are the pollsters that have nailed it so far:

In the race for governor, Public Policy Polling and Rasmussen both accurately predicted Democrat Jay Inslee's two-point lead over Republican Rob McKenna.

PPP and SurveyUSA, meanwhile, both accurately predicted that the gay marriage measure, R-74, would win 52 percent of the vote.

Strategies 360 correctly predicted that charter schools, I-1240, would end up with 51 percent of the vote.

And the University of Washington/KCTS-9 Washington Poll accurately predicted that I-502, legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, would win with 55 percent of the vote.

The next vote drop is today around 4:15.

We'll have some more winners to announce after that.

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