November 9, 1998
Dems make gains at state, national levels
by Andrew Walgamott
It was a tumultuous week in politics; Democrats stormed into power, taking back the State Senate and cutting into the Republican majority in the U.S. and state houses of representatives; and Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-Georgia) announced he would step down.
Washington voters also said yes to the medical use of marijuana, raised the minimum wage and kept partial birth abortions legal. They gave themselves a $30 break on vehicle taxes and okayed spending $2.4 billion to improve transportation, and told government it shouldn't discriminate based on race or sex in hiring, education and contracting.
Inslee, Dunn back to D.C.
After watching what appeared at best to be a wrestling match in a muddy playground, 1st District voters sent Jay Inslee to Congress, replacing Rep. Rick White (R-Bainbridge Island). Inslee, a former Congressman from Eastern Washington, had attacked White's vote to continue impeachment proceedings, saying President Clinton should instead be censured. White countered with ads questioning Inslee's record on taxes and committee attendance.
Bruce Craswell, the right-wing American Heritage Party candidate, siphoned votes from White, but apparently not enough to throw the election to Inslee. Despite Craswell's showing, Clay Ciolek, his campaign manager, said the candidate hadn't acted as a spoiler and said the American Heritage Party would be back.
"We're here to stay. This was a launch pad year; we ran five candidates around the state," Ciolek said, adding that the party wanted to organize in all 39 counties, as well being known under one name at next year's U.S. Taxpayer Party's convention.
The 1st Congressional District encompasses parts of Woodinville, Bothell, Kenmore as well as south Snohomish, north King and Kitsap counties.
In the 8th District, Jennifer Dunn (R-Bellevue) won her re-election bid against political newcomer Heidi Behrens-Benedict. The 8th includes eastern King and Pierce counties.
"We're very happy with the results," said Anna Rising, Behrens-Benedict's campaign manager. "It's the best a Democrat has done [in the 8th] in 15 years." Rising said Behrens-Benedict, owner of an interior design firm, would now take some time off to be with her family, but added, "There's a possibility she'll be back in two years."
Dunn takes her fourth term in office. With Inslee's, and Brian Baird's victory in southwest Washington, there are now five Democrats and four Republicans in the state's Congressional delegation. The GOP had a narrow advantage in the House.
In the Senate, Patty Murray (D-Seattle) easily fended off challenger Linda Smith. Murray, a Bothell High School graduate, enters her second term in the Senate. Both candidates had labeled the other extremist during the campaign.
Nationwide, two GOP senators prominently involved in the investigation of the President, New York's Alfonse D'Amato and North Carolina's Lauch Faircloth, were voted out.
"I was glad when I woke up and I wasn't a Republican," Cioleck said of the morning after the elections.
Still, Republicans maintained their 55-45 majority in the upper house.
Former sports stars starred in politics last week. Steve Largent, once a wide receiver for the Seattle Seahawks and now Congressman from Oklahoma, announced he would run for majority leader. Elsewhere, Reformist Jesse "The Body" Ventura can add governor of Minnesota to his list of credentials which also includes professional wrestler, football coach, Navy SEAL and Rolling Stones bodyguard. With just over a third of the vote, Ventura was thought of well enough to defeat the son of former presidential candidate Hubert Humphrey.
Also, there are now two governors named by Bush: one in Texas and the other in Florida. Both are sons of former President George Bush.
Sherstad, Thompson out
At the state level, Democrats seized the 1st District. Rep. Al O'Brien (D-Mountlake Terrace) retained his seat and will likely be joined by Jeanne Edwards, the Bothell City Councilwoman who was leading incumbent Mike Sherstad (R-Kirkland). O'Brien beat Ian Elliot. If Democrat Edwards' margin holds, she and O'Brien will represent Bothell, Kenmore and parts of Woodinville in the House. Rosemary McAuliffe (D-Bothell) represents the area in the Senate.
The Democratic wave sloshed into the 44th and 45th Districts, formerly Republican strongholds.
In the 45th, Laura Ruderman, the former Microsoft manager, appears to be beating Rep. Bill Backlund (R-Redmond). And in the 44th, John Lovick beat Rep. Bill Thompson (R-Everett).
Like Edwards, Ruderman said voters across the district, and the country, said they wanted moderate representation.
Lovick felt education turned the election for him. "I ran against a very good opponent and legislator and I feel good to be in this position," said Lovick. He and his opponent mailed out flyers daily in the week before the election, blasting each other's record on taxes.
It wasn't a complete wipeout for the GOP. Voters returned Bill Finkbeiner (R-Kirkland), who beat Bill Grace, to the Senate, and Kathy Lambert (R-Redmond), who went unopposed, to the House in the 45th.
In the 44th, Rep. Dave Schmidt (R-Mays Pond) and Sen. Jeanine Long (R-Mill Creek), beat Democrats Eric Goodrich and Kerry Watkins, respectively.
The 45th encompasses parts of Woodinville, Redmond and Kirkland as well as the lower Snoqualmie Valley, while the 44th includes parts of south Snohomish County.
Overall, Democrats wrested the Senate from the GOP, and, with several races yet to be decided, are close to winning back control of the House.
In the state Supreme Court, King County Superior Court Judge Faith Ireland defeated so-called country lawyer Jim Foley, and Judge Barbara Madsen was re-elected by defeating a colleague of Ireland's, Judge Jim Bates.
ASCENT 21 shot down
At the county level, two veteran prosecuting attorneys will return. Voters gave King County Prosecuting Attorney Norm Maleng (R) a sixth term. He defeated Fred Canavor. Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney James Krider (R) won unopposed in the general election.
ASCENT 21 may as well have stood for, 'And Snohomish County enunciated 'no taxes.'" By a three to one margin, voters stomped a five-part proposal that would have raised property, gas and real estate taxes for road and sewer improvements, and parks and open spaces. ASCENT 21 stands for Addressing Snohomish County's Environment Now and Tomorrow for the 21st Century.
Kenmore voters approved annexing into the Northshore Fire District, and Charlie Meyer defeated Arnold Young for an Evergreen District Court judgeship.
Results on statewide measures also showed King County differed with the rest of Washington. It was the sole county where a majority voted against I-200, and, along with San Juan, the only to vote against Referendum 49. Both passed anyway.
To see complete election results, press here.