Washington State GOP Searching Its Soul Over Losses

Nov 8, 2012

Democrats in the state of Washington had a very good night Tuesday night. They are now leading in every statewide executive race except one. Republicans don’t have as much to celebrate.

At Tuesday night’s election party, Democrats cheered a double dose of good news. First, the re-election of President Barack Obama. Then, the first round of local results were posted, and as soon as Democratic-leaning King County’s votes were added to the total, every single Democratic statewide candidate pulled ahead.

That gave party-goers something to celebrate.

“Oh, elation! Great, great night for Democrats, great night for Washington State," said party-goer Catherine MacKinnon.

By the end of the evening, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee was ahead by just over two percentage points.

Democratic Attorney General hopeful Bob Ferguson was leading by more than five percentage points. Republicans have held that seat since 2005.

In a close race for Secretary of State, Democrat Kathleen Drew and Republican Kim Wyman were within 14,000 votes of each other, with Wyman just slightly ahead. Republicans have held that office since 1964.

Democrats also appear poised to pick up one Congressional seat. This year's redistricting process produced a new seat in the 10th Congressional District, which Democrats appear poised to win. The 1st District was redrawn to be a swing district. Democrat Suzan DelBene has a decisive lead there over Republican John Koster.

Chris Vance is a former chairman of the state’s Republican Party.

He says he hasn’t given up hope yet on the governor’s race. He thinks Rob McKenna can still pull it off.

But he says overall, the Republicans fared poorly around the state.

Vance: “Losing the attorney general’s race is disappointing, not being competitive in the US Senate race at all is disappointing, and losing the 1st Congressional District, when that district was drawn to be a 50-50 district, and we are going to end up losing it by almost 10 points, is also got to be very disappointing."

But if Republicans win the governor’s race, Vance says they will feel a whole lot better about their other losses.

Republicans will be searching their souls about what went wrong this election, according to Vance. He says the GOP appeals to older, white voters. But the country is changing, and Vance says the party needs to find a way to reach younger, non-white constituents, people who now vote overwhelmingly for Democrats.

If McKenna wins the governorship, Vance says the party can start rebuilding itself from the top down.

If McKenna doesn’t win, then there is always the option proposed by current state GOP chair Kirby Wilbur. He joked to the crowd last night if someone like McKenna can’t get elected in this state, it might be time to move to Texas.

Copyright 2012 Northwest Public Radio