Aug 16, 2022
On this midweek show, we present Part 1 of the Hacks & Wonks 2022 Post-Primary Election Recap which was live-streamed on August 9, 2022 with special guests EJ Juárez and Doug Trumm. In Part 1, the panel breaks down primary election results in the 3rd and 8th Congressional Districts before moving on to battleground districts for State Legislature seats in the 26th and 30th LDs. Stay tuned for Part 2 of the recap releasing this Friday for more primary analysis!
As always, a full text transcript of the show is available below and at officialhacksandwonks.com.
You can follow Hacks & Wonks on Twitter at @HacksWonks. Find the host, Crystal Fincher on Twitter at @finchfrii and find today’s co-hosts, EJ Juárez at @EliseoJJuarez and Doug Trumm at @dmtrumm. More info is available at officialhacksandwonks.com.
Hacks & Wonks 2022 Primary Election Recap Livestream | August 9th, 2022: https://www.officialhacksandwonks.com/august-2022-postprimary-recap
[00:00:00] Crystal Fincher: Welcome to Hacks & Wonks. I’m Crystal Fincher, and I’m a political consultant and your host. On this show we talk with Policy Wonks and Political Hacks to gather insight into local politics and policy in Washington state through the lens of those doing the work, with behind-the-scenes perspectives on what's happening, why it's happening and what you can do about it.
You’re listening to part 1 of our 2022 Post-Primary Election Recap, with special guests EJ Juárez and Doug Trumm, which we live-streamed on August 9th, 2022. You’ll get part 2 in your feed this Friday, August 19th, in place of our regular week-in-review episode. You can find the audio and full transcript for this recap on our website, officialhacksandwonks.com. Thank you for listening!
Good evening, and welcome to the Hacks & Wonks Post-Primary Election Recap. I'm Crystal Fincher - I'm a political consultant and the host of the Hacks & Wonks podcast. And today I'm thrilled to be joined by three of my favorite Hacks and Wonks to break down what happened in last week's primary election.
Before we begin tonight, I'd like to do a land acknowledgement. I'd like to acknowledge that we are on the traditional land of the first people of Seattle, the Coast-Salish peoples, specifically the Duwamish People, past and present. I would like to honor with gratitude the land itself and the Duwamish Tribe.
We're excited to be able to live stream this recap on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Additionally, we're recording this recap for broadcast on KODX and KVRU radio, podcast, and it will be available with a full text transcript at officialhacksandwonks.com.
We invite our audience to ask questions of our panelists. If you're watching a live stream online, then you can ask questions by commenting on the livestream. You can also text your questions to 206-395-6248. That's 206-395-6248, and that number will scroll at the bottom of the screen.
Our esteemed panelists for the evening are EJ Juárez. EJ is a public servant who remains involved in numerous political efforts across Washington. In his day job, he's the Director of Equity and Environmental Justice for the Department of Natural Resources. He leads that agency's work to reduce health and economic disparities through environmental justice practices. He previously served as the first Public Policy Manager for the Group Health Foundation, where he led the work to create that organization's political and legislative portfolio after serving in leadership posts at the Seattle Library and as the Executive Director at Progressive Majority and ColorPAC, organizations dedicated to recruiting, training, and electing progressive champions in Washington and Oregon.
Thank you so much - welcome.
[00:03:01] EJ Juárez: Thanks for having me. I'm excited to be here.
[00:03:03] Crystal Fincher: Excellent. And next we have Doug Trumm. Doug is the Executive Editor of The Urbanist and serves on The Urbanist Elections Committee, which crafts the organization's endorsements. An Urbanist writer since 2015, he dreams of pedestrianizing streets, blanketing the city in bus lanes, and unleashing an eco-friendly mass timber building spree to end the affordable housing shortage and avert our coming climate catastrophe. He graduated from the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Washington. He lives in East Fremont and loves to explore the city by bike, foot, or bus.
Welcome, Doug Trumm. Great to have you - so we are having a little bit of technical difficulties with Doug, he will join us back again as soon as he's able, but we'll get started with EJ Juárez.
Starting off - I think we can start with the Congressional races, where just yesterday - in the 3rd Congressional District, which is in Southwest Washington - we saw Jaime Herrera Beutler concede. And so Joe Kent, the Republican, is finishing in second place in the primary - proceeding to go to the general election against Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, who is the Democrat in that race and finished first. What did you see happening in this? Did you expect Joe Kent to make it through? And what does this mean for what this race is gonna look like in the general election?
[00:04:37] EJ Juárez: So I'll be honest and say no - I did not expect Joe Kemp to make it through. I think I had more faith in Southwest Washington, honestly. This is a situation where - I think conventional wisdom had most of the energy focused on Jaime - how were folks going to make the case that Jaime needed to be replaced? And unfortunately for Jaime, that meant everybody was really against her and the results prove that. My big concern moving forward - and I think things that I'm gonna be watching for is - is this a Democratic operation in that district that can pull through and actually deliver a field strategy, that can deliver on the fundraising and the hopes of the strategy of what the national Democrats have been doing - is supporting these Trump conspiracy theorists over more moderate candidates in the hopes that Democrats pull through and take them out in the general. This is one where it's really gonna be - is Nancy Pelosi's strategy gonna play out the way they hope.
[00:05:42] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, this is gonna be really interesting. There was a lot of late money that came in in support of Jaime Herrera Beutler. There was a lot of talk that she wasn't very visible throughout the end of that campaign and so it - that may have had something to do with it. But I think the GOP electorate is pretty fractured. And this is one - we'll talk about several others coming up - but one of a number of races where the party establishment made it known what their preference was, put resources and a big push behind their candidates, and it actually didn't quite land. Their voters said that's actually not our choice and went a different direction and Jaime Herrera Beutler has been known as - it's interesting to say "moderate Republican," but more moderate than her counterparts, I think is fair. She had that reputation, but had been pushed further to the right kind of in response to where the base is this time, but not far enough. Joe Kent is in the race, he's Trump-endorsed, he is a frequent guest on the Sean Hannity program, he thinks that Jim Jordan should take over as leader of the party in place of Kevin McCarthy, he said that he's going to immediately call for Joe Biden's impeachment and investigate the 2020 election, he does not believe in support for Ukraine, defended calling President Zelenskyy a thug - just has a number of beliefs that seem like they aren't in line with where the GOP has traditionally been, certainly different than where the majority of residents in the state are if you look at all available polling. But he cobbled together a coalition that made it through the primary. Do you think that Republicans are going to coalesce behind him, Doug?
[00:07:40] Doug Trumm: I think ultimately they will. And I guess it depends how many people are dyed-in-the-wool Republicans in that district, because I think the sort of structural problem maybe that the state GOP is running into is just that the more they make their brand true to that base that elected Joe Kent, the less that they're appealing to the swing independent voters. So I don't know what to make - I think Republicans ultimately might come home, but they might lose a few folks who just - disgusted about the whole thing about her losing her seat. But it seems like there's been an incredible amount of brand loyalty throughout a near coup, so I don't know when to expect a huge exodus, but just a little bit of bleeding in that district would - could end up being costly.
[00:08:35] Crystal Fincher: Do you think they're gonna be able to effectively moderate, EJ?
[00:08:42] EJ Juárez: I'm gonna go with no. I'm sitting here thinking of what it must be like to be a Republican who shows up to your county Republican meeting in this moment where you have such dissatisfaction - both with your options, your party apparatus and strategy - where literally, there is no consensus. And when we talk about - how are Republicans gonna activate their base, I'm not convinced Republicans know who their base are in this moment. And it shifts in every district based on every candidate and the lack of consistency there - one, makes their money less effective, right? You're not operating in scale and you're not operating with the mass kind of penetration that you can get when you have a consistent messaging strategy that is born out of multiple cycles of races. So I think it's messy, and I think that this race in particular really is a great illustrative moment for what happened in the legislative races and what we're seeing across Washington State right now - where you cannot get Republicans on-brand, which is so wild to me given the past 30 years of rigid brand management.
[00:09:54] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, definitely. It's going to be very interesting to see just how that turns out. And I've certainly been asked recently - well, Joe Kent is a different kind of Republican, not the traditional kind of Republican we've seen elected here in Washington State. Does that mean that Marie Gluesenkamp Perez has a chance to win this race? This is a district where Jaime Herrera Beutler previously won it with 56% of the vote, I believe it was. Donald Trump won it with just under 51% to Joe Biden's around 48%. So this is certainly a district that at least leans Republicans if not more. Does the Democrat have a shot, do you think, Doug?
[00:10:42] Doug Trumm: Absolutely. A lot of race still to happen, but I would not be feeling confident if I was just assuming that was going to be a safe R seat. Just the impact of that particular issue - and Jaime Herrera Beutler's been there a long time, so I'm sure there's some loyalists who are a little bit offended that that's how her career ended. So I don't know - it's just, like you said, it's messy. And the brand is just murky right now and so much of it's driven just by anger and backlash - that's a very crude tool to wield. It's effective in motivating people, but you don't know which direction they're gonna go. And if just the conservative media apparatus is just - it completely runs on that type of thing and it's unwieldy.
[00:11:40] EJ Juárez: I'll just jump in briefly - I agree with Doug. I think the challenge here is that in any other year, if you were gonna look at the Democrat in that race and say you pulled less than 34%, that's not a good number to build from. And that's a really tough place to find a strategy and a foothold. I think that given the uniqueness of the challenger who's making it through to the general, it throws that playbook out. And we're gonna see over the next month - I think these next 30 days are gonna be really telling over just how much get up and go those local Democrats have in order to make up those percentages.
[00:12:20] Crystal Fincher: I agree. And so we'll move to the 8th Congressional District race, which is a bit further north - parts of a few different counties, including King County - that saw Kim Schrier, who is the current incumbent Democrat, finish with a pretty strong result. And had some strong challengers in terms of Republicans who were duking it out - so you had Reagan Dunn, Matt Larkin, and Jesse Jensen all competing on the Republican side, with Matt Larkin making it through. What do you make of this result, EJ? And what do you think it says about where Republicans are at, even in King County?
[00:13:03] EJ Juárez: I think it says a lot about Reagan Dunn. I really do. I think that to be perhaps the most high-profile Republican in King County and maybe in that entire district and have that showing really shows - I think it says a lot about both his candidacy and viability for further office, but ultimately his track record and what he's been able to accomplish. Matt Larkin, a relatively unknown Republican coming in, being able to beat a sitting County Councilmember in this contested primary - definitely bad news for establishment Republicans in this moment.
[00:13:46] Crystal Fincher: Certainly not what a lot of people predicted. What do you think the general election's gonna look like in this race, Doug?
[00:13:53] Doug Trumm: It does have the makings of a squeaker. When I was looking on election night, I was optimistic and I think - if I'm recalling correctly - that Kim Schrier's lead's just eroded a little bit and maybe that's just the rural parts of the district are seeing less of that traditional King County progressive swing at the end. But she still does have, I think, the upper hand and with the higher-profile candidate not making it through again, you have the case of - is the party going to be really excited getting behind Larkin the way they may have for Dunn, as the anointed dynasty son or whatever. And it just goes to show again - they're just having a really hard time picking candidates in the way that they easily used to - anoint the successor and get a candidate through who had all the connections and all the money. Larkin might find that with this sort of being a high-profile race for control of the House, but it certainly isn't what they'd planned.
[00:15:02] Crystal Fincher: Does not appear to be what they planned. And it seems like Reagan Dunn and Jesse Jensen were really concerned with going after each other and not really paying attention to Matt Larkin. It seemed, or at least he seemed to duck a lot of the crossfire going back and forth. Do you think that might have contributed to him making it through - just that he wasn't in-between the whole mud slinging battle?
[00:15:28] Doug Trumm: Yeah, that seems to be the case. And Reagan Dunn was just doing so much to try to rebrand himself. And maybe that just wasn't a great idea because a lot of the King County Republicans tried to make this moderate brand that they thought would be - and probably that would play - better in the county. But then knowing that he had this primary, suddenly he's taking these votes where he's reaffirming he's anti-abortion, anti-choice and taking these County Council votes where, if he wasn't in that race, you feel like he might have voted differently. And I don't know if voters also just react negatively that kind of like finger-to-the-wind opportunism. Just be yourself sometimes can get you some points that being a little too smart by half might actually cost you.
[00:16:24] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, I think so. I think this was interesting - also the Senate race with Tiffany Smiley and Patty Murray was interesting - in that, especially this 8th Congressional District race, was one that Republicans really thought was - they were going to have, I think certainly a stronger showing than this, that they were expecting Kim Schrier to be a little bit more vulnerable than she turned out to be. And looking at some of these other races where they thought - Hey, these are big opportunities for pickups - and not only did it not turn out very well percentage-wise, but their preferred candidates didn't even make it through. I think both of you alluded to some of the message discipline challenges that they're having. And a lot of times we've talked about - Hey, Democrats' messages are, may have some issues and stuff. They seem to actually be pretty effective that the Democratic results were fairly strong compared to what expectations were going in, and Republicans seemed to struggle. And you just talked about Reagan Dunn having a challenge with talking about where he's at in terms of abortion rights. He before had tried to be a moderate, this time it seemed like he really initially and in the middle there felt like he needed to say - yeah, absolutely I'm pro-life, I personally don't believe in abortion and don't want that. And with the Dobbs decision - Republicans could say that before, certainly more than if you had - I don't think that Washington residents, feeling that they had protections federally plus in the state, really felt like there was a vulnerability and so just let that slide. I don't think that was the case this time. And I heard Reagan Dunn in one interview say - yeah, that happened federally, but here in this state, abortion is settled law - which is literally what we heard Justice Kavanaugh say, what we heard a number of Congresspeople say before that right was eliminated at the federal level. So there just isn't confidence or comfort that that is settled law and it seems like Republicans are a bit flatfooted. And realistically, just not in-step with the 65 or so percent of the public that strongly favors abortion rights. How do you think they handle that issue in the primary? And what does that say for how things will look in the general?
[00:18:59] EJ Juárez: I'll jump in first here. I think it feeds into this idea that I think Republicans have been happily beating the drum on of - everything's fine, except for we're gonna oppose everything that might not make it fine - in this divorced-from-reality narrative of - as long as we hold the line, it can't get worse and we're not actively participating in that. And at the same time, 65+%, 78+% of the actual electorate are saying - we are totally on the other side of this issue than you, and you've missed the boat. And it doesn't take much for a voter to look at candidates, frankly like Reagan Dunn, who have that record or others who have public statements like Matt Larkin to say - actually, you've not done that, you've not done anything, you've chosen not to take an action here. And I think Kim Schrier was expertly deploying her messaging on the other end of that by - whether it was her TV ads or her radio spots and her visibility were always spot-on - bringing in the Republican mayors of Wenatchee, the mayors of Issaquah highlighting the fact that she was on the ground being active, not playing into the Republicans' assumption that voters would just be defense-oriented.
[00:20:22] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, and she's been active throughout her term on the ground and building those relationships and really delivering for the people in all of the areas of her district, which I think a lot of people questioned initially - Hey, is she gonna represent all of us? Is she gonna get out to the various counties? Is she comfortable in this really diverse district that is both urban, suburban, and rural - and that stretches nearly from the coast to the mountains. It is really an interesting district and a microcosm of the state, and she seems to have navigated that very well.
So I think we will proceed to a number of the legislative district races. And we'll start with a few - I think overall, it's fair to say that Democrats finished very strongly. Certainly at the beginning of this cycle, there was a lot of excitement from Republicans here in the state, legislatively, and concern from Democrats saying - Hey, this could be a tough year. We have a lot of seats that we may need to be defending. We've got redistricting. We're not knowing how that's gonna turn out. And so is this going to be a year where Democrats potentially lose a number of seats? It's a midterm that a lot of times is challenging for the party in power - just that's the way it's traditionally gone. And these results turned out pretty favorably for Democrats across the board. Thinking about things overall before we get into specific districts, are there thoughts that you have, Doug, on just how things look for Democrats across the board legislatively?
[00:22:07] Doug Trumm: I think we can pretty safely say that Democrats are still gonna have control of the State Legislature. There might be a swing of a seat or two in either direction - and that can include Democrats getting more seats, which if you believe all of the coverage - but leading into this election, it was just a lot of reprinted Republican press releases about how there was a wave coming and you better tremble. They might lose a seat or two but given where they're at right now, which is if you haven't been following along - that's 57-41 advantage in the House, it's a large advantage in the House. And then the Senate, there is a 28-21 advantage for Democrats. So they got a little cushion, so if they lose a seat or two - becomes a little bit more of a headache from time to time, as far as whipping the votes. But they're ultimately still setting the agenda, controlling the committees. So at the end of the day, the hope of controlling one of those chambers and stopping all this string of legislation - and, Crystal, I know we've criticized the Democrats here and then for some of the stuff they weren't able to get done, but let's take a moment to acknowledge that there has been a pretty steady stream of major legislation coming from this last few years of having Inslee in the governor's seat and having both chambers controlled that - including a major climate bill and including a major transportation package - neither of them are perfect, but they're definitely a lot better than doing nothing.
So anyway I don't know if that's partially a reflection of voters realizing - Hey, this is working out decently for us to let one party with a fairly clear vision and passion for what they're doing lead things. And then on this other side, we have a pretty honestly all-over-the-place message - and other times just really simple to the point of ad nauseam, just hating taxes every time. Well, sometimes we have to pay for stuff. So I think it's a favorable result and it'll be interesting to see some of those close races actually end up coming the Democrats' way.
[00:24:26] Crystal Fincher: Yeah. Any thoughts that you have, EJ?
[00:24:29] EJ Juárez: I've been thinking a lot about what it must be like to be JT Wilcox right now - the man who's running the Republican House strategy, the guy who's raising all this money in his caucus - for what purpose? And I kept believing that the strategy would become clear, that we were going to get indications of how all that money was going to be used on that side. And ultimately, they might as well just put that in a vault, and set the vault off to the ocean, given it a Viking funeral - because it did not produce. And there is nothing more damning in politics than being able to spend that much money with no results. And so I think the big takeaway for me looking at these legislative races, and I largely agree with Doug, is that Democrats who had controlled both chambers and the governor's office for so long and had really legitimate critique around not delivering on the biggest issues for Washington for many years from all sides - passed some big stuff and started to do big things and voters rewarded them by bucking what was supposed to be a very bad year for them. And so I hope that at least many of those Democrats, especially the incumbents maybe who aren't on the ballot this year, are watching that going - okay, here's the data point, let's keep going, let's do more, and see if this holds if voters will continue to reward us for delivering on the things that we know are important to them.
[00:26:09] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, I would completely agree with that. And to your point, to both of your points - they have taken some substantive moves, particularly at a time - we're seeing some significant action taken congressionally recently, that they're just making some progress with some major legislation. But even on issues that, federally, congress has been stuck on, our State Legislature has been able to act and move - things like a $35 cap on insulin for families was something that was passed by Democrats this past session. As you just talked about, Doug, record investments in transportation and transit and mobility and helping people be able to safely get through their communities and handle their daily tasks, even if they don't drive. And even areas where - Hey, there's highway expansion - that may be a little bit controversial. They moved on an issue that had been stuck for over a decade and getting through and getting past the I-5 bridge connection between Washington and Oregon. And so it is something where they have done some big things. They do appear to have been rewarded - particularly those that have stood strong. And there was, I think, a question in some of these swing districts that have gone between Democrats and Republicans, that have been repeatedly extremely close, whether Republicans were gonna be able to land some arguments that stuck, whether some of those criticisms from a couple years ago, or four years ago were still valid today. And it seems they fell flat, flatter than they have for a long time.
So I think just starting with a few legislative districts - starting with a big focus in the Senate, which I know Republicans were looking at as one of their potential biggest pickups. In the Senate, where the margin is closer than it is in the House, in the 26th Legislative District down on the Kitsap Peninsula with Senator Emily Randall facing a very strong challenge initially from Republican Jesse Young, who is a state representative running for that Senate seat. And Emily has finished - I think stronger than most people anticipated. I think this is one of those races where Republicans - to your point, EJ - invested a ton of money. Jesse Young was one of the biggest fundraisers - outraised, outspent Emily Randall - but Emily finished with over 50% of the vote. She's at 51.5% right now to Jesse Young's 44.3% - certainly not the result that Republicans were looking for and I think frankly, a better result than Democrats were expecting. What happened in this race and why do you think Emily finished so strongly, Doug?
[00:29:20] Doug Trumm: I think basically that that part of the state, which is just across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge from Tacoma - it's behaving a lot more like part of the Seattle metropolitan area. And that means it's, I think just generally, it's shifting to the left. And there's a lot of specific things - there was the big thing they were gonna try to hit Emily on - was they wanted to lower the toll on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. And that ended up being a huge football this session, but ultimately Democrats got to a place where they were okay with slightly moderating that toll, but maybe there was some thought that that left them vulnerable. But it appears that if that was gonna be their dark horse issue or whatever, voters went - well, that seemed like the responsible thing to do. You still do have to pay for that bridge and you have to pay for roads in general. You can't just suddenly go - everything's free. As much as we would love that, that means it's coming out of sales tax and other even more regressive sources that are farther from the use case. I guess I just bring that up since I do focus on transportation issues a lot, but I do think that getting around the district is a big one - and they did get a upgrade to the Gorst interchange as well in the transportation bill. And as urbanists, we maybe don't love that widening, but in that district - solving that bottleneck for them might have been something they look at Randall - she's getting stuff done.
And certainly we already talked about abortion, but I think in that district it's likely to be a very big issue that's motivating turnout. And with Jesse Young being a pretty extreme right Republican - that's just not a good matchup as they maybe thought it was on paper, just because he has name ID from being a representative and raising a lot of money. At the end of the day, it's just not the right messenger or the right message. So it's not a gimme, by any means - she has 51.5%, I think you said - but that's certainly a good, strong position to be into and barring some sort of real stumble, I think she'll get re-elected and rightfully so.
[00:31:44] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, and helping a potential seatmate in the Representative open seat currently there - Adison Richards, the Democrat, also finishing with just over 50% against Spencer Hutchins, the Republican candidate. And I think, particularly with Spencer - they tried to paint him as pragmatic, just worried about what people would call kitchen table issues traditionally. I think people talk about a lot at the kitchen table, including issues of values and rights - but really tried to focus on an economic message. They certainly tried to hit Emily Randall when it came to taxes, they were also talking about gas prices. And I think there was a recognition that - one, as they talked about with Biden sometimes, this is a bigger problem than just Washington State or even the United States when it comes to gas prices. There are some other major geopolitical forces at play there that influence that. And I think as you mentioned, Doug, it's not that most people are actually anti-tax - they just want to get their money's worth, I think is the bottom line. And I think with a number of the things that Emily Randall, that Democrats have really talked about being important to invest in, people are feeling that money is being spent in the ways that they feel is valuable and useful and they can see a case to be made for that. What do you see in this district, or what do you think this says about just competitive districts overall, EJ?
[00:33:31] EJ Juárez: I'll start by - I think every time we talk about Jesse Young, we also have to talk about the fact that he was barred from talking to his own legislative assistants by the Legislature. This is a man who faced credible and serious allegations of being hostile and intimidating to staff. This is also a man who mixed his professional staff with his campaign staff and was campaigning with state resources on state time, so every opportunity -
[00:34:00] Crystal Fincher: Which is illegal, which you cannot do.
[00:34:05] EJ Juárez: - had to get that in there 'cause good governance, good - excuse me - good government is important. The second thing is the 26th gives me big 30th LD circa five, six years ago vibes. This is a pattern where we gradually saw Federal Way - that region - transfer to a much more solidly Democrat district, or at least more reliably Democrat district than we have. I think we're watching in real-time, the 26th make a similar transition - probably not apples-to-apples, but it's close enough where we're seeing this trend line of more Democrats consistently showing up. And our candidates, regardless of fundraising ability, doing better and better. That is not to take anything away from Emily because that woman is a rock star, right? She is working really hard. She is in the field and she's actually addressing the least sexy issues of many districts, right? It is the retail politics of where are your sidewalks, let's talk about the farmer's market, let's talk about land use in your neighborhood and the park down the street. And unlike many other legislators, this is something that's popping up again and again on her socials and in her campaign ads and how she is moving through the world. So I think this is a case of an incredibly hard-working Democrat incumbent, who is earning potentially this reputation of somebody who can hold super hard districts and I think raise a bunch of money at the same time. While she may have been outraised, she's pulling in sizable donations and has been a consistent, I think, player in her caucus.
[00:35:46] Doug Trumm: Yeah, that's dead on. And I just want to add in quick to that - in addition to her just being clearly a rising star in the party, this district has a fast ferry to Seattle and it's close to Tacoma - this is a place where people are going to escape really high housing prices in Seattle. That is where the working class is moving and that's where your barista lives, maybe. So it's certainly someplace where it's easy to see that trend continuing because Bremerton is building a good amount of housing - they're embracing that to some extent and that's gonna change who's in the district - it's gonna be a younger district for that reason.
[00:36:34] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, and to your point - Bremerton has, Gig Harbor has made important strides on zoning housing action, building enough housing to house the people who are moving there, who are living there, and really taking steps to address the housing affordability crisis that we've been seeing - and making progress in those conversations and taking action in ways that I think is surprising sometimes to people in Seattle, and that Seattle is lagging behind areas in Pierce County and in Spokane, when it comes to taking definitive steps to build more housing supply, address the housing crisis, and move there. It's really interesting. I completely agree that this does remind me of the 30th Legislative District around the Federal Way, Auburn area of a few years back, of the early to mid-20 teens that we saw there and that it is progressively coming more blue. And I do think that is because we're seeing a lot more people, displaced really, from Seattle and more expensive areas to those areas, discovering how they are - those areas or are organically growing also. And so we're seeing a number of the Pierce County suburbs shift to be a little bit more blue as well as suburbs in King County.
And so it's a really interesting phenomenon that we're seeing - which we might as well move to the 30th Legislative District results. This was another really interesting district, especially with redistricting - a lot of people wondering is this going to be a district that's a challenge? There's been a lot of talk about public safety, there's been a lot of talk about economic issues. And this is another area where Republicans invested a lot of money and tried to attack the Democrats in this district for taking action that was popularly supported by voters in the district before, seems to have been a vindicating vote in that area where Claire Wilson is at 54% ahead of Linda Kochmar, who was a known Republican name in the area. Jamila Taylor finishing above 54% against Casey Jones, who's actually a policeman, an officer in the area. And then with an open seat - the one vacated by Representative, or that's being vacated by Representative Jesse Johnson - Kristine Reeves, who is a former State Representative who left to run for Congress and now is running again for this seat, finished with just shy of 43%. And that was a competitive Democratic primary - so between Kristine Reeves 43% just about, Carey Anderson, the other Democrat in the race, at just about 14% - a really strong Democratic showing in that seat against the Republican who made it through to the general election with 37% of the vote. 55+% is what people would love to see. This used to be a district with Republicans there - very purple, not reddish purple - that has just continued to move solidly blue. I think to that point you have legislators here with Jamila Johnson [Taylor], who's the head of the Black Legislative Caucus, and Senator Wilson who are great retail politicians, great in the community, doing the work on the ground to get this through. What does this result say to you, starting with EJ?
[00:40:23] EJ Juárez: At the risk of being a little too snarky, I think what this says is Federal Way and Auburn love a good repeat candidate. We've got Linda Kochmar, who has run how many times now? We've got Kristine Reeves coming back to serve in the House. And by no means is it a single value on any of these also-rans and multiple-time candidates. It is that - one, the bench there is producing the same types of candidates, but the difference is the Democrats are doing better every time, right? These are not radically different candidates than that have been running in the past. What I'm interested in is - you've got Representative Johnson, who had done incredible work on criminal justice reform. Voters clearly were not buying the hype from the media on just how controversial this must have been when it's actually not - that would've been borne out in the vote share - that is a clear correlation, there would've been some level of backlash.
I think the other piece here is that turnout was not good in that region. And when you look at King County overall and you look at who's voting specifically in the 30th LD, there is much work to be done. And so while it is impressive that Democrats are putting up 44, or excuse me, 54+% in each of these races, I don't think they can rest. And I think that if they do their - while I don't think it's enough for the GOP to come back and pull one of these seats, it would be a disservice to the nearly decade of massive investments that that caucus and the party has made in that region - that is full of renters that is full of young families, and people that - to Doug's point earlier - escaping housing prices who are sandwiched between Tacoma and Seattle now. So I think it's a fascinating place with lots to watch still.
[00:42:18] Crystal Fincher: Very fascinating - a ton to watch. You are absolutely correct - turnout there, in many areas in South King County really, is bad. It's poor. And everyone has to do a much better job of engaging voters where they're at. We have to meet them on the doors. We have to meet them in the community. We have to do the work to make sure that we're reaching out to everyone and listening and hearing what they need, what's concerning to them, what they're saying is needed in their neighborhoods and their communities, and responding and addressing that to make sure that government and their representation is relevant to them. I think there's work to be done there and just the continued communication. So I think this is certainly one where I agree that it probably is not going to flip, but a lot of work just needs to be done in the community. And the more the community is engaged and galvanized, the more they're going to be able to do and lead.
This seems like such an opportunity in this district - where sometimes we look at for Democrats, the Seattle districts and say - okay, this is just a safety seat. These people can lead on groundbreaking policy on things that we know are the right thing to do and that just need more proof of concept, more data from implementations on the ground, and people can say - okay, they implemented it there. It wasn't scary. The sky didn't fall. We can expand this. We've seen that with $15 an hour minimum wage. We've seen that with a lot of paid leave legislation. Even renter protections in Federal Way - they were among the leaders in passing a local initiative there that then we saw replicated across the state and legislative action taken on. So it's - I just see this as such a district of opportunity, if they really can engage and connect with the community to be able to do that.
Thank you for listening to part 1 of our Hacks & Wonks 2022 Post-Primary Election Recap. Part 2 will be in your feed this Friday, August 19th. You can find the audio and transcript for the full recap on our website, officialhacksandwonks.com.
The Producer of Hacks & Wonks is Lisl Stadler. Our Assistant Producer is Shannon Cheng, and our Post-Production Assistant is Bryce Cannatelli. Our wonderful co-hosts for the recap were EJ Juárez and Doug Trumm – that’s two m’s at the end. You can find EJ on Twitter at @EliseoJJuarez, and you can find Doug at @dmtrumm. You can find me on Twitter @finchfrii and now you can follow Hacks & Wonks on Twitter at @HacksWonks.
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