Only 2/3 of the vote in the Washington "top two" primary election held yesterday have been counted, so things could change. But here is my initial take on the results:
Boy, SurveyUSA really nailed this one. No surprises at all. The only drama left is whether the man who has garnered the most statewide Republican votes of any other candidate over the last decade in Washington decides to let himself be "coached." Clint Didier's refusal to leave the gridiron is more embarrassing than Brett Favre's continual retirements. And it looks like Paul Akers will have ended up paying somewhere between $20-$30 per vote received. Ouch. That's hardly "lean."
Adding up all the Republican votes, this race is going to be very, very close. With possible control of the Senate on the line, Murray vs. Rossi promises to be big and a possible bellwether for Republicans nationwide.
Congressional District 1
The primary battle between Republicans James Watkins and Matthew Burke got nasty as of late. Watkins doubled up Burke, but adding both Watkins and Burke's votes together still leaves Jay Inslee, whose next election will likely be for Governor of Washington in 2012, with a commanding lead.
Congressional District 2
Rick Larsen is in big, big trouble. This one could be a pickup for Republicans if John Koster can get financial backing.
Congressional District 3
Again, no surprises. It's Denny Heck vs. Jaime Herrera. David Hedrick hurt David Castillo. A lot. Most of Hedrick's votes likely would have gone to Castillo. But in any case, Herrera's base in populous Clark County clearly helped here.
If the GOP can heal its wounds after a bitter primary battle between Herrera and Castillo, this looks like a pickup. Watch for lots of national money and attention pouring in for the general.
Congressional District 8
"The Sheriff" Dave Reichert seems to be leading comfortably against Microsoft millionaire Suzan DelBene.
Congressional District 9
Just 52% for incumbent Democrat Adam Smith must be a little troubling for him. However, leading GOP challenger Dick Muri has to be a little disappointed with his failure to approach 30%. Jim Postma, who spent and campaigned a lot less than Muri, got nearly 20%. If Muri can work harder on name recognition, he has an outside shot.
Legislative District 1
First-timer Heidi Munson has to be very happy with a very respectable 48% and a good chance to pick up an open seat for Republicans
Legislative District 2
While not really a pickup for Republicans, Jennifer Dunn Leadership Institute grad and dairy executive JT Wilcox is thoroughly trouncing RINO Tom Campbell.
Legislative District 6
The race for state senate in LD6 is going to be the most expensive in the state. Republican Michael Baumgartner had to prove that he is competitive to keep money coming in for his race against incumbent Chis Marr and his PAC dollars. Baumgartner accomplished that, currently ahead 51-59. This could be a big Republican pickup.
JDLI grad Shelly O'Quinn seems to have lost to former Republican state rep John Ahern in a bid to take on Democrat state rep John Driscoll. Ahern likely had the benefit of greater name recognition and a conservative/moderate split in the Spokane County Republican Party didn't help O'Quinn either
Legislative District 17
Republican Brian Peck seems poised to upset incumbent Democrat Rep. Tim Probst, with 52-48 thus far.
Ditto with Republican Paul Harris running for Deb Wallace's open seat.
Legislative District 21
Republican Elizabeth Scott will face off against incumbent state rep Marko Liias. At 52%, Liaas could be vulnerable.
Legislative District 25
House Majority Caucus Chair Dawn Morrell is in huge trouble, only garnering 41%. Young GOP upstart Hans Zeiger is poised to make this a huge upset in November.
Legislative District 26
Republican Doug Richards looks competitive against incumbent Democrat Rep. Larry Seaquist.
Legislative District 28
Republican Steve O'Ban is in a dead heat with Troy Kelley. Could be another GOP pickup. Ditto with Paul Wagemann against Tami Green in Position 2.
Legislative District 30
Democrat Senator Tracey Eide is facing a tough challenge from Tony Moore.
Katrina Asay looks like she has a good chance to hold on to Skip Priest's seat for Republicans.
Legislative District 31
This could get interesting. It looks like it may be an all-Republican general with Matt Richardson facing off against incumbent Sen. Pam Roach. Roach, if you remember, successfully sued Richardson over statement he made in the voter's pamphlet.
Legislative District 35
Looks like Republican Dan Griffey will give Democratic state representative Kathy Haigh a run for her money.
Legislative District 41
Republican Steve Litzow is neck and neck with incumbent state senator Randy Gordon. This one could easily be a GOP pickup.
Peter Dunbar is doing the same on the House side with rep. Marcie Maxwell
Legislative District 44
Dave Schmidt has a good chance to knock off Democratic state senator Steve Hobbs. And Bob McCaughan looks competitive against Democrat Hans Dunshee in the House Position 1 race.
Legislative District 45
In one of the biggest upsets brewing, in addition to the Baumgartner-Marr race, Republican Andy Hill is ahead of ultra-liberal state senator Eric Oemig 51-49.
Republican Kevin Haistings is close to Dem state rep Roger Goodman
Legislative District 47
In another shocker, Republican Joe Fain, another JDLI graduate, is up by 10 on Democratic state senator Claudia Kauffman.
And Democrat Rep. Geoff Simpson, charged with domestic violence, failed to get over 40%. He's clearly in hot water with voters. Simpson will face Republican Mark Hargrove in the general. JDLI grad Nancy Wyatt obviously struggled with name recognition against Hargrove, who faced Simpson in 2008.
Legislative District 48
JDLI grad Gregg Bennett only trails Democratic state senator Rodney Tom by 4 points.
Former state GOP chair Diane Tebelius has a lot of work to do to unseat state representative Ross Hunter.
In summary, it looks like a good year to be a Republican in Washington. The swing districts in the Seattle suburbs in particular seem to be trending GOP again, which is key.
Dino Rossi is probably at even money to win the U.S. Senate seat. But he is going to have to really concentrate on vote-rich King County, where Murray has 58%.
Jaime Herrera will likely take back a Congressional seat for Republicans, and John Koster as well. That will give the GOP a 5-4 advantage in Congress.
Republicans need to pick up seven seats to regain control of the state senate. Currently, they are ahead in four races (Baumgartner, Fain, Litzow, and Hill.) Three others are very close (Bennett, Moore, Schmidt.) Not likely, but possible.
In the House, Republicans need 13 seats for a majority. While not likely to get there, I predict a pickup of somewhere around 8-10 seats for the GOP.
So I don't think Republicans win back the Washington Legislature this year, but they will be well poised to do so in 2012, when Rob McKenna marches to the Governor's Mansion.
And for those keeping score at home, of the five graduates of the inaugural class of the Jennifer Dunn Leadership Institute last year running for the Legislature this year, two are way ahead (Fain, Wilcox,) one is very competitive (Bennett,) and two look like they won't go through to the general (Wyatt, O'Quinn.) Not bad.
UPDATE: Luanne Van Werven made a great catch in the comments. I had forgotten to mention up in the 42nd Legislative District, Vincent Buys is ahead of Democratic Rep. Kelli Linville. Linville is the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, responsible for last year's budget disaster.