© Krantz News Service, November 6, 2013
A strengthened Republican-dominated majority in the Washington State Senate is perhaps the nation's most significant development in Tuesday's election of state offices.
It comes as Washington Governor Jay Inslee has called a special session to address major issues involving Boeing's future in Washington and the state's transportation infrastructure.
Victories by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (who had 60 percent of the vote) and Terry McAuliffe in Virginia were expected.
While a McAuliffe win had been heralded as a model for Democrats in coming elections, particularly the presidential contest in 2016, his narrow victory margin of just under 2.5 percent (before certification) was something of a surprise.
McAuliffe, who had been a top fundraiser for Bill Clinton, outspent his Republican opponent Ken Cuccinelli by more than $14 million, according to the nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project.
But the Democrat's victory appeared to be free of coattails. The House of Delegates is still solidly Republican and the Senate remains split 20-20, just as before the election.
Meanwhile in Washington, state Rep. Jan Angel was leading state Sen. Nathan Schlicher in a race to fill the Senate seat for the state\222s 26th Legislative District; Angel was up by just under 3 points on Tuesday night. Schlicher had been appointed to the seat formerly held by Democrat Derek Kilmer, who was elected to the U.S. Congress in 2012
The candidates argued over taxes, health care and, indirectly, who was to blame for problems in the other Washington. Schlicher touted his health care abilities as both a lawyer and a physician, but the Affordable Care Act's troubled roll-out loomed in the background.
At the same time, in a legislative district home to many federal workers, he hit Angel hard on the federal government shutdown. "We can't afford reckless, Tea Party-style politics here," stated a Schlicher mailer. "The people who brought you the shutdown are backing Republican Jan Angel."
Angel defeated Schlicher by more than 9 points in August in Washington's "top two" primary. Then as a fall fog enshrouded the east Kitsap Peninsula district, the Nov. 5 outcome grew unclear. A surge in campaign funds helped Schlicher close the gap by two-thirds.
This was the most expensive legislative race in Washington State history, totaling some $3 million, according to the latest estimates.
One measure of that sum is to compare it to the $5.5 million spent in the tough 2012 re-election contest of celebrated Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis, now a candidate for governor. The Angel-Schlicher race in a much smaller Washington legislative district cost more than three times as much per voter as the Davis race.
Angel's victory strengthens the Majority Coalition in its negotiations with Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee, although not in the special session beginning Thursday in Olympia; Schlicher will still be in office at that time.
Inslee called the special session to secure a commitment by Boeing to build its next generation 777X within the state. Bills in the special session would include tax breaks for Boeing and a long-discussed transportation package.
The Republican surge in the Washington Senate has crept up somewhat unexpectedly over the past year. Washington is a blue state. It holds the longest streak in the nation for one party's hold on the governor's office -- all Democrats for nearly three decades.
In nine of the eleven years of those decades where the Republicans obtained a majority in the Senate, it was by one vote; the other two years they held a three-vote margin. By contrast, as recently as three years ago the Democrats held an eleven-vote edge. Meanwhile the Democrats have controlled the House for all but six of the past 30 years.
Heading into the 2013 legislative session, Democrats held a 26-23 advantage over Republicans. But two Democrats joined with the Republicans to form a Majority Coalition. Angel's victory strengthens the coalition heading into the 2014 short session and elections.
She will have to defend her seat by running again in 2014.