Politics Blog

Five things to watch for in the Whatcom County elections

AP on Monday, Nov. 3 came up with these five things to know about Washington’s election. In the same vein, I present Five Things to Watch For in the Whatcom County Elections.

1) Doug Ericksen vs. Seth Fleetwood. Democrat Fleetwood is the underdog against Republican incumbent Ericksen in this Legislative District 42 Senate race, Fleetwood having lost the two-person primary to Ericksen by 14 percentage points. This was a big-money race, with Ericksen’s campaign raising — and his independent supporters spending — $903,555, which is a little less than Fleetwood’s $941,769. Fleetwood doesn’t show a distinct advantage there. What remains to be seen is if Democrats got out the vote more effectively than Republicans.

2) The 42nd District House. Dems are also trying to make inroads in the conservative 42nd in the two House races. Joy Monjure and Satpal Sidhu, the Democratic candidates, trailed their opponents — incumbent Vincent Buys and Luanne Van Werven, respectively — by a margin similar to the Ericksen-Fleetwood gap in the primary. Democrats’ chances might be better with Sidhu, who is not facing an incumbent and has touted himself as a nonpartisan option with a business and academic background.

3) The PUD. Let’s not forget the Public Utility District of Whatcom County, a usually quiet water purveyor that has made waves this election cycle because challenger Bob Burr has made the proposed Cherry Point coal terminal an issue. The PUD, including incumbent candidate Jeffrey McClure, extended a large water contract with terminal builder SSA Marine for another 30 years, a move the anti-coal Burr said was “nearly evil.” Burr garnered more votes than McClure in the three-way primary, but that election was held only in Whatcom’s most liberal district.

4) The Charter Review Commission. Hopefully voters got a handle on what this was about. The Democratic and Republican parties each have endorsed a slate of candidates, with Republicans preferring a change to the county charter calling for “district-only” voting for County Council members. Democrat-endorsed candidates want to keep the council election the same: The entire county votes for all council candidates. “Moving to (district-only voting) would rig the system, making it hard for Democrats to hold the majority on the County Council,” said Mike Estes, chairman of the Whatcom Democrats. “Our candidates are basically not wanting to see that change.” If one party or the other sees its favored candidates gain a majority on the 15-member commission, then that could indicate whether voters will see district-only voting on the November 2015 ballot.

5) Suzan DelBene vs. Pedro Celis. The Republican Celis had an anemic showing in the primary, but he hired a big-gun staff to rejigger his campaign, and most national media accounts (including here and here) say this is a good year in general for Republicans. We’ll see if Celis catches the second Obama-era midterm GOP wave.