Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Friday, July 16, 2010

Road to Olympia: The Front Lines

This is the second in a series of articles on this fall’s Washington state legislative races.

I have been hearing a lot about how voters are angry and that there is an anti-incumbent mood in the land.   Gallup recently reported that conservative enthusiasm is at its highest since 1994.

The 47th Legislative District in southeast King County, part of the sprawling suburban "Crescent" lying to the east of Seattle, is regarded as a key for Republicans to take back in order to reduce the Democratic supermajorities in both houses of the state legislature.  It's a swing district, going for Barack Obama and Dino Rossi in 2008.

Last Sunday evening, I joined Nancy Wyatt, a Republican running for the state house in the Washington 47th Legislative District, as she went doorbelling to see for myself.

Nancy and I went to a quiet, tree-lined subdivision of older, but well-maintained, homes in Covington.  We knocked on dozens and dozens of doors (Nancy, the President/COO of the Auburn Area Chamber of Commerce is a dynamo) of homes set in cul-de-sacs with manicured lawns which are owned mostly by young working class families with children.  This is Boeing Country.

Seahawks and Mariners bumper stickers were in abundance on cars.  As we walked, one could hear the buzz of lawnmowers and the hiss of sprinklers.  Nancy joked that typically her targeted homes had an American flag and a Smith Brothers Farms porch box out front.  She was right.  Many of them did.

The very first home we went to, the gentleman asked Nancy what she thought the proper role of government was.  Nancy answered that is should be limited, with government only providing necessary infrastructure.  He seemed pleased with her answer.  “Wow,” I thought.  “Is is it going to be like this the whole time?”  It was.
Many people who answered the door seemed relieved to read Nancy’s flyer to see that she was a Republican.  One person specifically asked “R or D?”  He was pleased that it was the former.

We spoke to another man and his wife on the sidewalk.  He asked, “Are you GOP?  Because I wouldn’t have taken this [flyer] if you had been a Democrat.”  As we walked away, I could hear the man tell his wife, “I’m not a Republican.  I’m not a Democrat.  I’m the American Party, whatever that is.”

Another voter, a fan of Glenn Beck, said he was sick and tired of Rep. Geoff Simpson, and that many of his neighbors were as well.   And here’s a tip for Democrats.  Don’t be so sure having I-1098 on the ballot is going to help you this fall.  This man told us that if it passes, he and his wife will leave the state, probably for Texas.  He knows many other families that feel the same way.  A state income tax, even if it doesn’t directly affect them, is seen as the last straw for some Washingtonians who have otherwise tolerated decades of Democratic misrule.

Geoff Simpson is in a lot of trouble, and not just with the law.

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