Morning Fizz

Suburban Blue

One bright spot for Democrats in 2016.

By Josh Feit December 27, 2016

Looking back at the year always means looking forward to the next. Whoa.

My latest story for the magazine looks back at one of the bright spots for Democrats in Washington state in 2016, the Democratic victory in the state senate race in the 41st Legislative District—Bellevue, Mercer Island, Issaquah.

By knocking out Republican incumbent senator Steve Litzow, former businesswoman Lisa Wellman continued what appears to be an inevitable trend, the transition over the last 15 years of Seattle's (increasingly dense and diverse) Microsoft suburbs from red to blue. Wellman's win—which Republicans tried to prevent with more than $1 million in independent expenditures—brought the Democrats to within one seat of winning back the state senate.

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From the conclusion:

“Density creates Democrats,” political consultant Christian Sinderman says of the progressive turn on the Eastside. Indeed, suburbs like Bellevue, Mercer Island, Issaquah, and Renton—all in Senator Wellman’s district—have seen booms in growth and diversity in the last 15 years. Bellevue alone has grown nearly 20 percent, and has gone from 75 percent white to 61 percent white, with a 56 percent jump in people of color. 

The Eastside still isn't all in on the blue agenda, though. 2016's light rail measure lost overall in East King County, getting 49.01 percent, though it did win in some key cities like Bellevue, Redmond, and the Eastside terminus, Issaquah. 

In addition to North King County (Seattle), the only other one of the five regional districts where ST3 won was north of King in Snohomish County, getting 51 percent overall to North King's 68 percent. The key wins in Snohomish: Edmonds, Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace, and Mukilteo (sorry Tim Eyman.) It only hit 49.29 percent in the Snohomish terminus, Everett.

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