Friday, September 23, 2016

Race of the Day- Washington Governor

45 Days Until Election Day

Status: Democrat Incumbent
2012 Presidential Result: Blue State (West)

Outlook: Likely Democrat

Not since 1980 has a Republican been elected Governor of Washington. Over the past several cycles, Republicans have been frequently optimistic about breaking that losing streak, only to be disappointed at the end, at least once under extremely close and controversial circumstances. While the Republicans have once again put up an attractive candidate for the job, it just seems unlikely that left-leaning Washington is going to give a Gubernatorial win during a Presidential election year, especially when the Democrat is expected to solidily carry the state.

After having served in Congress, including from two different localities during two terms, Democrat Jay Inslee resigned in 2012 in order to run for Governor. That office had long been an aspiration of his and he had finished at 10 percent of an all party primary back in 1996, just two years after he lost a Congressional reelection race in his first district. Sixteen years later though, Democrats were largely united behind Inslee and he faced off in the general election against the highly touted Republican state Attorney General. It was a tough battle, but Inslee prevailed by about three points. As typical for Democrat wins in the state, he lost almost everywhere outside of Seattle, but that large city's vote was enough to swing the state.

Now, Inslee is running for a second term and while he has had some clashes with the state legislature, is favored to win reelection. Republicans have a strong candidate though in Bill Bryant, the former Seattle Port Commissioner, who comes from a part of the state the GOP would definitely need to make inroads in if they have any chance of victory. Bryant comes across as a likeable mainstream Republican who tries to bridge the differences between business and environmental interests in Washington. He is  making the argument for change and how the state is not growing as it should, but there is not much evidence to suggest this is the year for Washington to take a chance on a Republican Governor.

In the state's somewhat unique primary system, all candidates appear on the same primary ballot, and in recent cycles, the top two advance, regardless of party. In early August, Inslee took the first spot with 49 percent of the vote, and Bryant was a clear second with 38 percent. While the incumbent was held under 50, an additional approximate five percent of the vote went to minor Democrat candidates and just about four percent to other Republicans. The math of the state's electorate, as seen in the "test-run" favor Inslee and the Democrats, although the race will probably fall somewhat short of a landslide.

Bryant campaign link:

Governor races predicted thus far:
9 D (1 Safe, 2 Likely, 3 Leans, 3 Tossup)
2 R (1, Safe,1 Likely)
Overall predicted thus far: 20 D, 29 R