Politics Blog

Analysis: Ericksen's senate seat one of 10 in play

Doing some light reading while waiting for tonight's Whatcom County Council meeting, I came across a good piece in Crosscut analyzing the five or 10 state Senate seats that are in play and could lead to a Democrat takeover of the Senate.

The majority coalition caucus rules the 49-member Senate now, with 24 Republicans and two Republican-ish Democrats in Tim Sheldon and Rodney Tom.

Crosscut has determined that the 42nd District, currently represented in the Senate by Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, is one of the latter five seats that are "at least in some state of play." It does not rank among the top 5 that "might be key to a change of control."

Overall, of the 10 seats, eight are held by majority coalition caucus members. This means the Republicans are playing defense in Senate campaigns this election year, wrote Crosscut's John Stang.

"The Democrats would need to hang on to their two seats and pick up another two to take control — winning four of the 10 elections."

Here is Stang's take on the 42nd, after interviewing the two parties' state chairs:

42nd District, more or less Whatcom County: Democratic Chair Jaxon Ravens suggests this district is ripe for picking by the Democrats in the war for Senate seats — an idea that Republican Chair Susan Hutchison described as far-fetched. Incumbent Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, served six terms in the House before moving to the Senate in 2010. His re-election tallies usually flirt with a comfortable 60 percent. Ericksen, like the districts' Republican representatives Jason Overstreet and Vincent Buys, is solidly in the conservative wing of the GOP.

Recently, Bellingham attorney Seth Fleetwood announced his candidacy as a Democrat. Fleetwood served two terms on the Bellingham City Council from 2009 to 2013. Fleetwood has not yet filed paperwork on finances with the Washington Public Disclosure Commission. So far, Ericksen has raised $46,950 and has spent $6,161.

Ericksen has been the Senate Republicans' point person on environmental and energy issues, leading the GOP opposition to Inslee's climate-protection measures. Under Ericksen's leadership, the GOP has pushed for more study of nuclear power and revoking carbon-emission-reduction goals set in 2008. Neither side has prevailed with its plans for the past two years in the Legislature. 

Be sure to read the Crosscut story for what's at stake and what a Democrat takeover of the Senate would mean for the state government's agenda beginning in 2015.