As always, I did my duty and cast my mail-in ballot in today’s Washington state elections. The top measures to be decided here have to do with upholding the state’s hard-won domestic partnership law (approve) and determining the fate of conservative activist Tim Eyman’s latest disastrous ballot initiative, which would cap the amount of money available to city, county, and state governments and thereby drive budget deficits upward (deny).
Other than that, there are two novice contenders for the Seattle mayor’s seat (neither of whom, to my mind, would be as good a choice as the present mayor, Greg Nickels). And there’s the highly contentious race to fill the big shoes left empty when Ron Sims’ moved from the office of King County Executive to become Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. That latter contest pits experienced Democrat Dow Constantine, the head of the King County Council, against an annoying right-winger, former local TV talking head Susan Hutchison, who has spent much of her campaign ducking the fact that she’s a Republican running for a newly nonpartisan office, because the GOP brand is a scarlet letter in the Emerald City. Hutchison managed to come out of the primary with respectable numbers, but that’s mostly because she was the only Republican running against several candidates who split the Democratic vote. Since then, though, there’s been a lot of reporting about her right-wing credentials (she even supported Christianist Mike Huckabee in last year’s presidential race) and Constantine has run a tough and intelligent campaign against her. My hope is that Constantine will bury Hutchison in today’s race.
With the exception of the vote on domestic partnership, none of these Washington races has national implications. In fact, the only U.S. contest that could arguably signal a significant change is the one for New York’s 23rd District congressional seat, in which the Republican candidate was finally driven out of the race by a Sarah Palin-backed right-wing extremist who not only doesn’t live in the district he hopes to represent, but received 95 percent of his campaign contributions from outside of that district. The thinking is that promoting such extremists in the GOP will be bad for the party as a whole, because while it may energize the base, it also threatens to shrink wider support for Republicans. We shall see.