Unpacking the GH Primary: Democrats Losing Their Lock

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Cry me a river. Democrats are losing their lock on Grays Harbor.

Once upon a time, any blue candidate who could fog a mirror was an easy shoo-in for just about any local race. Just plaster a “D” next to their name and chalk up another mark in the win column.

Not anymore.

The sea change started in 2010 when Herb Welch (squishy R) defeated Al Carter (D) to win a seat on the county commission – the first such win for a Republican in more than a generation. Wes Cormier (R) added to the winning streak by beating incumbent Terry Willis (D) in 2012. The victory gave Republicans their first majority on the commission in some 80 years.

Fast-forward to 2014. Grays Harbor Democrats failed to advance their sole commissioner candidate, Al Smith, past the primary. Vickie Raines (NP) led a four-way race in the primary when Keith Olson (R) edged out Smith (Jim Heikel failed to gain any traction and trailed at a distance fourth). Raines went on to win in the general while Democrats were shut out. Again.

Tuesday’s results on the Harbor were even more pronounced. Sitting commissioner Wes Cormier easily out-distanced two Democratic challengers by grabbing over 54% of the vote. Challengers Al Smith and Jamie Nichols trailed at about 22% and 24%, respectively. (Voters clearly saw through sorehead, humorless tempest-in-a-tea-pot editorials. Nice try.)

County Admin Bldg 2

Results in District 2 were even more dramatic as challenger Randy Ross (NP) trounced incumbent commissioner Frank Gordon, about 61% to 39%.

Clearly not a good night for the Party of Debt, Dependency, and Detroit.

Perhaps the night’s biggest disappointment was the governor’s race. Incumbent idiot Jay Inslee (D) led Republican challenger Bill Bryant 48.57% to 38.14% statewide. But take a second look. Any time an incumbent comes in at less than 50%, that’s basically a vote of No Confidence. Combining the 42% of the vote received by the two Republican “Bills” (Bryant and Bill Hirt), the race for the guv’s mansion tightens to about 42% to 49%.

Look closer again. In previously ever-blue Grays Harbor, the guv’s race is a virtual dead heat. The Jayster leads Bryant by a whisker, 41.64% to 40.25%, at last tabulation.

Also take a look at races in the 19th and 24th LDs. On the Harbor, Jim Walsh (R) thrashed incumbent J.D. Rossetti (D) for 19th LD State House, about 38% to 29%. Walsh leads by about five points district wide.

In the 24th LD State Senate race, Kevin Van De Wege (D) leads Danille Turissini (R) by a wide margin district-wide (about 62% to 38%). But look closer. The race was much tighter locally, with Turissini snagging 43.45% of the Harbor vote. Think about that for a minute. In her first outing without any prior run for office, newcomer Turissini grabbed over 43% of the Harbor vote – against an entrenched, 10-year incumbent who’s the House Majority Whip. This, with just a couple month’s run-up. (It may also be noted that Turissini posted significantly higher numbers locally than did Harborite Jim Walsh – 43+% to 38%. Why is that?)

In the 24th LD’s State Rep Position 1 race, George Vrable (R) beat out Mike Chapman (D) on the Harbor, 43% to 32%.

Yep. Local Democrats have good reason to be running scared. The days of Pavlovian voting are fading in the rear view mirror. The lemming run vote isn’t running anymore. Democrats are losing their lock on the county.

Oh, happy day!

On a separate note, Commissioner Vickie Raines came under fire over Proposition 1 at Monday nights’ BOCC meeting. Two Neighborhood Watch-ers criticized Raines for a perceived arrogance and/or lack of concern on the matter.

During public comment periods, Corwin Grey singled out Raines for criticism of her alleged unwillingness to engage Neighborhood Watch groups who support the proposition. He said Raines’ “repeated refusals” on this score should cause her re-election bid to be unsuccessful.

Raines disputed the charge, saying she’s probably attended more public meetings and functions on the subject than any other commish.

Kim Edwards, Manager of Central Park Neighborhood Block Watch, said Raines needed to take responsibility for a “lack of communication on your part” and non-responsiveness to emails. Raines countered, “I’m confused why people think there was a lack of communication there. There were many emails” sent back and forth she said.

You can watch the exchange here.

The Proposition is passing easily with about 54% to 46% for approval as of this writing.

UPDATE – August 4.

The topic was revisited on this morning’s edition of KBKW’s CoffeeTalk with Doug McDowell. McDowell referenced Monday night’s kerfuffle during the broadcast’s seven o’clock hour, saying he “couldn’t believe the attack” (on Raines). He described it as “way off base.”

Raines said she was “blindsided” by the comments. “I believe they were provided information that wasn’t completely accurate” she said.  “Sometimes people will get agitated and try to express their point.” She said she has done a lot of work on the matter serving on both the 3/10ths of 1% committee and in her former capacity as mayor of Cosmopolis.

Raines praised the involvement of local police chiefs and others. “We wanted to make sure we had all our ducks in a row” she said, noting that “it’ll be interesting” to see how the next tabulation pans out. An update is scheduled for August 5.

Raines said she was “very frustrated” because she “has spent a lot of time trying to educate” the community on the issue, as have many others.

Raines pointed out that elected county officials (Judge Dave Edwards, County Prosecutor Katie Svoboda and Sheriff Rick Scott) provided an “opinion editorial” to local media outlining how Prop. 1 funds might be spent should the measure eventually pass. “There’s a lot of things we can be doing to enhance services at the public level,” said Raines. The election will be certified on August 16.

A July 30 editorial on the proposition by The Daily World can be found here.

Aberdeen Police Chief Torgerson continued the conversation on the subject during the 8 o’clock hour… at which point yours truly had to skip out.

Did you catch the radio broadcast or watch the video link above? What are your thoughts?

 

 

 

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