Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Thursday, November 16, 2006

"Election roundup: Whitman, Latah counties buck trends"

From today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
Results from Whitman and Latah counties didn’t jibe with those from the rest of their respective states during the recent general election.

Washington voters as a whole retained Democratic control, while Republicans held firm throughout most of Idaho.

Whitman County overwhelmingly voted Republican, with Sen. Maria Cantwell being the sole Democrat to win more votes than her Republican opponent. A Republican clerk, treasurer and county commissioner were re-elected in Latah County, but the majority of voters supported Democratic candidates in every other race.

Wes Taylor, chairman of the Whitman County Republicans, said Republicans held their own in Whitman County and much of eastern Washington in last week’s general election. He contributed the results to the make-up of the county and the region.

“We tend to vote more conservative because we are (agriculturally) based, and that lifestyle tends to hold traditional values,” Taylor said. “We also favor less legislation and we like to keep our money in our pocketbook.”

Taylor said he foresees Whitman County continuing to hold a strong conservative base. Although the county is diversifying and office buildings and shops are popping up next to wheat fields, Taylor said new people moving to the area start to realize the strain taxes have on their buying power and want to find ways to hold onto their money. Taylor said Republicans historically protect peoples’ incomes.

Taylor also sees the state beginning to lean a little more toward the right. He said Washington currently isn’t very business friendly, and it will have to loosen its control in order for growth to continue.

Carolyn Cress, Whitman County Democratic party chairwoman, said she’s pleased with the election results, even though Democrats didn’t pick up any seats in the district or the county.

“Whitman County is overwhelmingly Republican,” Cress said. “There is a conservative population out in the county, WSU is more conservative than UI, and the Grange, (which) used to be fairly progressive, has become far more conservative.”

Cress said despite the conservative foundation, Democrats made a good showing and fielded good candidates.

Cress watched election officials count the provisional ballots and she was encouraged at the number of split ballots.

“People are ready for a change,” Cress said. “(Maria Cantwell and Peter Goldmark) have new ideas and many people want that.”

Cress said that if the Democrats can push legislation through Congress and live up to their promises, they have a chance to bolster their seats and their influence throughout the country in 2008.

She said the vote could shift back toward the conservative side if Democrats bog down and fail to accomplish anything.

“We’ll see,” she said.
The Democrats fielded good candidates? Depends on your perspective I suppose.

And you can believe that we are going to work to keep Whitman County conservative.

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