Here are seven races to watch in November
by Mike Andrew -
SGN Staff Writer
If the results of the August 7 primary election are any indication, Democrats and LGBT folks of whatever party affiliation should be optimistic about the outcome of the November election.
In spite of the fact that people who vote in primary elections - especially in low-turnout primary elections like this one - trend more Republican than voters in general elections do, pro-LGBT Democratic candidates emerged from the primary looking like winners.
The November ballot will feature the presidential race, a U.S. Senate race, all the statewide officers, half of the state's senators, and all the state representatives. However, there are seven races that may have special interest for LGBT voters.
INSLEE VS. McKENNA (GOVERNOR)
Even though Democrats will probably retain control of both houses of the state legislature, they will not have the two-thirds majority necessary to override the veto of a Republican governor. Past history has shown that having a friendly Democrat in the governor's mansion is critical to enacting pro-LGBT legislation.
Passing the Anderson-Murray LGBT Civil Rights Act in 2006, a succession of anti-bullying bills, and the Marriage Equality Act would not have been possible without the active support of Gov. Christine Gregoire.
Democrat Jay Inslee endorsed equal marriage rights for Gay and Lesbian couples even before the state legislature passed the Marriage Equality Act. His Republican opponent does not support equality.
As a congressman representing the 1st District, Inslee cosponsored all the key pro-LGBT legislation introduced in the House.
Inslee was also a supporter of President Obama's health care reform, which - among other advantages - allows people with pre-existing conditions like HIV to get affordable insurance coverage. McKenna used his position as the state's attorney general to join a Republican-inspired and ultimately unsuccessful lawsuit to get the new law declared unconstitutional.
Despite lagging behind McKenna in early polling, Inslee picked up momentum as the primary election neared, and ultimately came out on top with 47% of the vote to McKenna's 43%.
In King County, where McKenna was a three-term County Council member, Inslee beat McKenna by 23 points, winning more than 58% of the vote to McKenna's 35%.
While Inslee's four-point statewide advantage is not enough for him to relax and coast to November, it is significant. More Democratic-leaning voters are expected to vote in the November general election, and Obama - who remains very popular in this state - will also be on the ballot, potentially bringing even more votes to Democratic candidates.
FERGUSON VS. DUNN (ATTORNEY GENERAL)
In the race for attorney general, Democrat Bob Ferguson will face off against fellow King County Council member Reagan Dunn. Dunn's mother, Jennifer (who named him in honor of Ronald Reagan) was a long-time Republican congresswoman from Bellevue.
Ferguson has been a vocal supporter of LGBT rights throughout his political career. Like Ferguson, Dunn voted for a County Council resolution supporting the Marriage Equality Act, but he also offered an amendment, ultimately unsuccessful, that called for putting the issue to a statewide vote.
In other words, Dunn backed the rationale behind the right-wing petition campaign challenging marriage equality, even if he did not back the petition campaign itself.
Dunn has also said that pharmacists should not be required to sell so-called 'morning after' contraceptives to patients with prescriptions for them. This is significant because if he is elected, he would have to pursue a case now being heard by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in which the state government argues that pharmacists must provide women equal access to contraceptives.
Ferguson won almost 52% of the vote to Dunn's 38%, with about 10% going to right-wing Christian attorney and conspiracy theorist Stephen Pidgeon. In King County, where both Ferguson and Dunn are best known, Ferguson won by 27 points, 61% to 34%.
DELBENE VS. KOSTER (1ST CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT)
In the dogfight to fill an open Congressional seat in the 1st District, Democrat Susan DelBene beat five other Democrats and an Independent to win a chance to face Republican John Koster in November.
This is DelBene's second run for Congress. In 2010, before district boundaries were redrawn, she lost to Dave Reichert in the 8th Congressional District.
Koster is making his third run for Congress. In 2000 and 2010 he lost to Rick Larson in the old 2nd Congressional District. He has also been a Snohomish County Council member and a state legislator.
In those positions Koster was uniformly hostile to the LGBT community. His 2010 campaign manger was none other than Larry Stickney, the author of Referendum 71 and the campaign manager for the losing effort to reverse the state's domestic partnership laws.
Koster also opposes abortion under any circumstances, and has advocated abolishing the federal Department of Education.
The old 1st Congressional District was the seat Democrat Jay Inslee vacated to run for governor. The newly redrawn 1st District is said to lean slightly Republican. If this is true, the fact that Koster - the only Republican running in the primary - won only 44% of the vote means that he is vulnerable in November.
MCCLOUD VS. SANDERS (SUPREME COURT, POSITION 9)
In the race for an open seat on the state Supreme Court, judicial retread Richard Sanders - who served on the court from 1995 until he was defeated in 2010 - won a place on the November ballot with almost 28% of the vote.
Sanders finished second to attorney Sheryl Gordon McCloud, who took almost 31% of the vote. McCloud is unusual for a Supreme Court candidate in being a former public defender rather than a prosecutor.
Sanders is unusual in being a self-proclaimed libertarian with a strong aversion to individual rights - at least where the LGBT community is concerned.
In the 2006 Andersen case, in which the state Supreme Court ruled that the legislature was within its rights to prohibit same-sex marriage, Sanders and his colleague James Johnson wrote a concurring opinion that was even more extreme and anti-Gay than the majority opinion, authored by Justice Barbara Madsen.
HAUGEN VS. BAILEY (10TH DISTRICT, SENATE)
Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen is in the fight of her life to keep the Senate seat she has held for nearly 20 years. She won only 49% of the vote against her Republican challenger, Barbara Bailey.
Bailey is not, of course, the former Broadway bookstore owner of the same name, but a one-term Republican state representative. The Gun Owners Action League and the NRA have endorsed her.
While she was not in the legislature when most of the state's signature LGBT rights laws came up for votes, Bailey was there for the Marriage Equality Act - and voted No.
Haugen, on the other hand, voted Yes. If she is defeated for another term, the state's Republicans will be one seat closer to their goal of capturing control of the Senate and obstructing any progressive legislation.
HILTON VS. ZEIGER (25TH DISTRICT, POSITION 2)
Hans Zeiger was notorious in the 2010 election, in which he won his seat in the state House, as a 'reformed' homophobic blogger.
An aspiring pundit, Zeiger first posted a number of anti-Gay rants on right-wing blogs like WorldNetDaily and Intellectual Conservative, and then deleted all of them when they became an issue in the campaign.
At the time, he told SGN that he wrote the offensive posts when he was young and stupid, and had outgrown using such extreme language. He did not retract the political essence of the posts, however, and he would not explicitly commit to upholding existing state laws against anti-Gay discrimination.
In an undistinguished first term in the legislature, Zeiger voted against marriage equality.
His Democratic opponent, retired State Patrol officer Bill Hilton, won 43% of the vote to Zeiger's 57% in a district that is thought to lean somewhat Republican.
WALTERS VS. SCOTT (39TH DISTRICT, POSITION 2)
Elizabeth Scott, the NRA and Tea Party favorite who lost to openly Gay Rep. Marko Liias in the 21st District in 2010, won a spot on the November ballot for an open seat in the 39th.
In 2010, Scott was endorsed by John Koster, who has endorsed her again this year, right-wing DJ and Koch brothers operative Kirby Wilbur, and Christian Right pastor Wayne Perryman.
This year Scott has been endorsed by the NRA, the Gun Owners Action League, the Citizens Alliance for Property Rights, Human Life PAC (an anti-choice organization), and right-wing Republican state Sen. Val Stevens, also of the 39th District.
Scott will face attorney Eleanor Walters, who came first in the six-person primary with about 31% of the vote. She has been endorsed by the Washington State Labor Council, a number of union locals, and Rep. Liias.
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