Local Election

Whatcom Dems face possible shutout loss in state's 42nd District

This blog entry was corrected at 5:23 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 7, to reconcile Lisa McShane's statement about a 5-to-8-percentage-point swing that favors Democrats, between the primary and general elections, and our presentation of the results from 2010 and 2012. The swing in percentages ranged from 3.2 percent to 4 percent, not 1.6 percent to 2 percent, as initially reported.

If Democrats are to take even one seat in the Republican 42nd Legislative District, it will be a come-from-behind victory of historic proportions.

Whatcom County Dems were in a buoyant mood several minutes after poll results were released the night of the Tuesday, Aug. 5 primary.  Their candidate for the state House seat being vacated by Jason Overstreet, R-Lynden, won in a four-person race and will compete one-on-one, probably vs. former Republican Party official Luanne Van Werven, in the November elections.

Bob Burr, running an anti-coal terminal campaign for a seat on the Public Utility District of Whatcom County Board of Commissioners, was narrowly in the lead in that race and will also advance to the general elections. The office is nonpartisan, but Burr received the Whatcom Democrats' endorsement.

In the other two 42nd District races, the results were nearly identical. Republican incumbents had large leads over Democratic challengers. Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, led Seth Fleetwood 56.9 percent to 43.1 percent. Rep. Vincent Buys, R-Lynden, led Joy Monjure 56.8 percent to 43.2 percent.

Vincent Buys commented on the results on his public Facebook page (1,350 likes):

"Great news, we reached our highest election numbers yet at nearly 57%! Thanks everyone for all your help and support. On to the general!"

Let's slow down just a little and note that thousands of 42nd District votes remain to be counted, and those late ballots are generally understood to trend Democratic. Even so, Monjure and Fleetwood are looking to close a gap that now stands at more than 13.5 percentage points.

Democrats were expected to finish behind Republicans in the conservative 42nd. To look at the flip side of Sidhu's win, his 39 percent does not stack up favorably against the 57 percent combined for Republicans Van Werven and Bill Knutzen. I asked Lisa McShane, who is active with the Whatcom Democrats, what her party wanted to see happen with the 42nd District results in the primary.

Historically in races for Washington state Legislature, McShane said, Democrats benefit from a 5-to-8-percentage-point swing from the primary to the general. The common wisdom is that primary voters are older and more conservative than the general voting population.

In the past two rounds of primaries, 2010 and 2012, Dems haven't fared quite that well going from primary to general elections in the 42nd District.

There were four two-person primaries those two election cycles. Democrats did improve from August to November, but the swing was no more than 4 percentage points:


Kelli Linville vs. Vincent Buys

Primary: 48.1 to 51.9

General: 49.9 to 50.1 (+3.6%)

Pat Jerns vs. Doug Ericksen

Primary: 38.5 to 61.5

General: 40.1 to 59.9 (+3.2%)


Matt Krogh vs. Vincent Buys

Primary: 44.3-55.7

General: 46.3-53.7 (+4.0%)

Natalie McClendon vs. Jason Overstreet

Primary: 44.2-55.8

General: 46.0-54.0 (+3.6%)

More votes should be counted at the Auditor's Office today, Wednesday, Aug. 6. The Bellingham Herald will have an updated report in the Thursday paper.

Speaking of print editions ... can we just go all-digital already? One headache peculiar to printing presses and the people who run them caused a big gaffe in this morning's edition. Our "jump" page, A3, was wrong due to a printing error, which means the tail ends of our two main election stories (the 4-person 42nd District race, and the two races for U.S. rep.) did not appear.

We are sorry. We will incorporate as much of that missing content into the reports for the Thursday paper.