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`The race is on’: WA primaries next up ?>

`The race is on’: WA primaries next up

Washington’s campaign season is officially underway, with hundreds of candidates signed up for 364 offices, from the U.S. Senate and statewide offices to key races that will determine control of the state Legislature and the future of 10 congressional districts.

Secretary of State Sam Reed said he was pleased with the remarkable rush of interest in state and local office, given the difficult problems facing Washington state and the sometimes harsh nature of modern campaigning and the unpredictable influence of powerful independent interest groups.

Reed said it may be a record for turnover of statewide, congressional and legislative offices. He predicted heavy voter interest in the upcoming campaigns and elections.

Last week was Filing Week at the State Elections Division and county election offices. Many candidates filed online, and others showed up in person for the time-honored ritual of rallying with supporters and using the official filing as an opportunity to try out campaign messages and fundraising. Monday was the final day for candidates to withdraw; the final list of candidates will be official on Tuesday.

Next stop is the Top 2 Primary.

Under the 2004 citizen initiative that created the new system, the two most popular candidates for each office will advance to the General Election, without regard to party label.  Candidates designated their party preference last week, most selecting traditional Republican or Democratic Party as their preference. Some designated no party preference or listed a preference for a “party”  that doesn’t exist at all, Independent GOP or (R) Hope&Change or Democratic-Repub Party.

The party preference doesn’t mean the party has endorsed or recognized the candidate. The Primary is a winnowing process, not a nominating process. No party is guaranteed a runoff spot; indeed some districts will have finalists from the same party preference.

Primary ballots go out by July 20, with a postmark or dropoff box return deadline of Aug. 7. The General Elections deadline is Nov. 6.

Large numbers of candidates lined up for most of the marquee races, although many races have clear frontrunners for the two runoff spots.  Democrat Jay Inslee and Republican Rob McKenna have largely had the gubernatorial field to themselves for the past year.  Democratic incumbent Chris Gregoire is stepping down after eight years in office.  Three other statewide offices are guaranteed to turn over: Attorney General, Secretary of State, and Auditor.

Treasurer Jim McIntire, a Democrat, drew no opposition from either party, a rarity.  Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell and Republican state Sen. Michael Baumgartner, were leaders among the crowd filing for the Senate seat.

Congressional races firmed up,  including a sudden gusher of candidates who signed up for a one-month term remaining on Inslee’s term in the 1st District.  Democratic State Chairman Dwight Pelz had hoped to clear the field for a temporary seatholder, Snohomish County Council Chairman Brian Sullivan, but Darcy Burner and other candidates jumped in on Friday.  Sullivan (more…)

Court: 2012 elections will use Redistricting Commission maps ?>

Court: 2012 elections will use Redistricting Commission maps

The Washington Supreme Court has unanimously authorized use of the new Redistricting Commission boundaries to run the 2012 elections, even as a citizen challenge to the commission’s work proceeds.

Secretary of State Sam Reed said he was pleased — and relieved — to get the ruling:

“This is very good news. Our 2012 elections season is barreling down on us, with Filing Week beginning May 14 and Top 2 Primary ballots going in the mail in July. The counties are working very hard to meet the deadlines for redistricting voting precincts and redrawing a number of boundaries to comply with population shifts and the work of the Commission.”

State Elections Co-Director Shane Hamlin was delighted with the court’s ruling.

“This provides us stable ground and certainty for the administration of the 2012 elections. It was very important for election officials to know which boundaries and precincts they can use. That is basic, foundational information.  The counties are definitely under the gun to get all of the boundary changes ready.”

The citizen commission, comprised of two Democrats and two Republicans and a non-voting chairwoman, spent 2011 redrawing the 49 legislative districts and 10 congressional districts, using fresh Census data. The Legislature made minor modifications and the plan went into effect on Feb. 7. John Milem, Vancouver, a longtime student of the redistricting process, filed his challenge on Feb. 8.

The Attorney General’s Office filed the urgent request to the Supreme Court shortly after Milem filed his challenge.  Chief Justice Barbara Madsen, writing Wednesday for a unanimous court, noted that Filing Week is now only two months away and that by the end of next month, counties must establish voting precincts that align with new district boundaries.

Milem and state attorneys were given until April 13 to submit an agreed finding of facts. If that agreement isn’t possible, the case will be sent down to the Thurston County Superior Court for fact-finding, with a report due back to the high court by May 29.  The date for the high court’s oral arguments will be set “in due course,” Madsen wrote.

WA redistricting panel produces new district maps ?>

WA redistricting panel produces new district maps

Washington’s citizen Redistricting Commission, under the gun to reach bipartisan agreement on new congressional and legislative district boundaries, pulled it all together just a few hours before their absolute deadline on the night of New Year’s Day.

With all four voting members — two Republicans and two Democrats — signing off on the plan, the new boundaries are expected to take effect this spring.  Under the voter-approved constitutional amendment that created the process in 1983, lawmakers will have only a limited ability to tweak the boundaries, and then only by a hard-to-achieve two-thirds vote in both chambers.  Gov. Chris Gregoire will have no role in the process. There has been no threat of a court challenge.

Fresh district boundaries were required by the state and federal constitutions to reflect the population growth and shifts in the 2010 Census.  Some districts were badly out of shape, some needing to shed large numbers of voters due to population growth over the past decade and other areas needing to gain population.

Also, the state was awarded a new 10th Congressional District, the first new district since 1990.  The district was placed in Olympia/Shelton and northward into Pierce County. The 9th District was formed into a minority majority district, meaning the Caucasian population is less than 50 percent.  Two districts, the 8th and the 3rd, both held by Republicans, picked up more Eastern Washington voters.

Analysts said the open 1st Congressional District could well be the most competitive district. Incumbent Jay Inslee is leaving to run for governor.  Candidates began ann0uncing for the various districts within minutes of the commission releasing its maps last week.

Redrawing the legislative districts also were a task for the commission, with the 15th in the Yakima Valley becoming the state’s first majority Latino district, and the 6th District in the Spokane area becoming more competitive. Some incumbent legislators in Western Washington were shifted from their current districts.

Here is the letter that the commission sent Secretary Reed, announcing submission of its plan to the Legislature.



A perfect 10! WA awarded new congressional seat ?>

A perfect 10! WA awarded new congressional seat

Map courtesy of U.S. Census Bureau

Celebration time! Washington’s population grew by over 14 percent in the past decade and will gain a new congressional seat.

Washington’s former governor, Gary Locke, now President Obama’s commerce secretary, presided over a nationally televised press conference to release the 23rd Census since the founding of the republic.

Relative to the rest of the nation, Washington grew enough in the past 10 years to nab a 10th congressional district.  Our latest population number: 6,724,540 million people. The population growth in the West also was very strong, up 13.8 percent, with the region passing by the Midwest in terms of population.  The U.S. average growth was 9.7 percent, and we’re now 308.7 million people. Census officials said 60 percent of the growth nationally was new babies and 40 percent was due to immigration.

As had been projected from preliminary estimates, Washington will gain a 10th district starting with the 2012 elections, most likely to be added in the rapidly growing greater Puget Sound region.  All of the current districts will be changed significantly.

The idea population will be 672,454 people per congressional district; the ideal new legislative district will be 137,235.

Election officials at the state Capitol watched the Census news conference and erupted in cheers as the map flashed on the screen showing that Washington is one of a handful of states to pick up one or more seats.  Several states also lost one or more seats.

Secretary of State Sam Reed said he was delighted with the news of a new seat:

“We couldn’t be happier. This is a great day for the people of Washington.  We gain in clout, with another strong voice in Congress to be added in 2012. We gain an Electoral College vote and our population gain means we get a little larger slice of the pie as federal grants are apportioned out based on population.”

The actual work of divvying up the state in equal-sized congressional districts and legislative (more…)

Get your free history fix right here … ?>

Get your free history fix right here …

As we contemplate picking up a new 10th U.S. House district in time for the 2012 election – and an additional electoral vote – Patrick McDonald, assistant to Secretary of State Sam Reed, has pulled together a concise 14-page history of our congressional delegation.

During territorial days, we had a “delegate,” such as Isaac Ingalls Stevens, Arthur Denny, and guys with cool names like Selucius, Obadiah and Orange. At statehood in 1889, we had a single statewide House member (John Wilson of Spokane) and gained a second seat after the 1890 census.  The 3rd was awarded after the 1900 census, the 4th and 5th after the 1910 enumeration, the 6th after the 1930 census, 7th after the 1950 count, the 8th after 1980 and the 9th after the 1990 census.

If we indeed are awarded a 10th district, it’s widely expected to go into (more…)

A perfect 10: WA still in line for new district ?>

A perfect 10: WA still in line for new district

Washington apparently is still in line for a new 10th congressional district, according to analysts at Election Data Services.

The analysis, reflecting fresh population estimates from the Census Bureau, says if the numbers hold up in the 2010 Census data that comes out in less than three months, Washington will take the 434th of the 435 House seats as a net gain. The EDS survey, however, points out that a number of other states, including Oregon, are on the bubble, fairly close to winning a new seat.

The report says six states, Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Washington, are in line to pick up a single seat, Florida two seats and Texas would gain four.  Eight states would lose single seats – Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. New York and Ohio are projected to lose two seats.

The analysis says Washington gains a 10th seat by a fairly narrow advantage of 12,923 people. (more…)

WA exports more than apples & jets ?>

WA exports more than apples & jets

Washington Map 2 No Background copyWashington is on the map as one of those “laboratory of democracy” states, with citizens who seem relatively comfortable with innovation and experimentation.  Some of those ideas get exported to other states.

A couple of current potential examples-in-the-making: California, the nation’s most populous state, soon will vote on whether to adopt Washington’s Top 2 Primary system.   The Golden State, you may recall, previously copied our “blanket primary,” and thereby incited a lawsuit by the political parties that ended up costing voters in both states the right to wide-open primary voting.  After hating our pick-a-party fallback position, we Worshingtonians passed an initiative backed by the Grange, Secretary Reed and others, to let us pick our two favorites for each office, regardless of party preference.  It’s been popular, and our third running of this new primary will be Aug. 17.

Top 2 was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2008, and now California voters will decide on June 8 whether to adopt Proposition 14.  Reed’s op-ed endorsing the plan appeared in this Sunday’s San Francisco Chronicle.

Oregon, meanwhile, may get a chance to vote on a plan to create a Redistricting Commission that would take the political sensitive chore of legislative and congressional map-drawing away from the Legislature.  Washington voters approved a constitutional amendment in 1983 that created a citizen redistricting commission. The process has drawn good reviews and has successfully redrawn districts after both the 1990 and 2000 censuses (is that really the plural?).  The Washington commission will be reconstituted this winter and will have all of 2011 to produce new districts for the Legislature’s up-or-down vote in 2012.

As you may have heard, Washington may very well be in line for a new 10th congressional district after this year’s Census is completely tallied.  (more…)

UPDATE: We’re a perfect 10 ?>

UPDATE: We’re a perfect 10

wamap_2Washington apparently is in line for a new 10th congressional district, according to analysts at Election Data Services.

The analysis, reflecting fresh population estimates from the Census Bureau on Wednesday, says if the numbers hold up in the 2010 Census, as expected, Washington will take the 435th of 435 House seats as a net gain.

The report says six other states, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina and Utah, also would pick up a seat and Texas would gain three.  Eight states would lose single seats – Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. Ohio is projected to lose two seats.

The analysis indicates that Washington’s gain may be Oregon’s loss. Oregon was on the bubble to get a new seat.  But Washington should gain that seat by just a hair – by a margin of less than 25,000 souls. “The additional seat appears to have gone to its northern neighbor, the state of Washington,” the report says.

So bottom line, it’s not official and could change in the final Census numbers next year, but for now, it looks like Washington will pick up a new congressional district.  We got the new 8th District after the 1980 Census and the new 9th District after the 1990 Census.

“This is very good news for Washington — a greater voice in the Other Washington,” said Secretary of State Sam Reed.

Shifting boundaries: Redistricting afoot ?>

Shifting boundaries: Redistricting afoot

Evans-redistrictingThe politically sensitive issue of how to re-draw Washington’s congressional and legislative boundaries will be turned over to an independent citizen commission after the 2010 Census — but work is already under way.  The Secretary of State’s redistricting office — a grand name for two staffers! — has just launched a terrific new website that spells it all out.

This political art-and-science, much beloved by government and election techno-geeks, is called “redistricting.”  Every 10 years, the Constitution requires that our districts be redrawn so they’re of basically equal population — nine U.S. House districts and 49 legislative districts. (This photo, provided by Howard E. McCurdy, shows Gov. Dan Evans and others reviewing a redistricting map in the 1960s.) 

Over the course of a decade, population shifts greatly in some parts of the state.  For instance, the 8th and 3rd congressional districts have surged in population and will be shedding some of their voters in the next round of redistricting.  Some of our legislative districts, such as in Southwest Washington’s 17th and 18th, and King County’s 5th and the 2nd in King, Pierce and Thurston, are way too big. (more…)