Could the Tri-Cities be turning a bit purple?
Our region is known for being a red pocket in a blue state, but several Democrats made it through last week’s primary — and that hasn’t happened in a long time.
Whether it’s because of the “blue wave” seen elsewhere in the country or simply because more Mid-Columbia Democrats are organizing, we don’t know. But it will be fascinating to watch how the dynamics play out in the next few months.
Leading up to the general election, we encourage candidates to be civil and focus on issues rather than party rhetoric. There are Tri-City concerns that are the same for all of us, regardless of your preferred color scheme.
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A Tri-City Herald analysis of election results showed that, as expected, a solid majority of Mid-Columbia voters supported Republican candidates in the primary election – by 60 percent in most races.
However, in some races the GOP vote was split, and a lone Democrat emerged with enough votes to make it on the November ballot. This means Mid-Columbia voters will have the chance to choose between a Democrat and a Republican in a number of key races.
Bill Berkman, chair of the Benton County Republican Party, told the Herald, “It’s got me a little rattled. But that’s good. It motivated me to work harder and think more.”
Allison Dabler, chair of the Benton County Democrats, said the party is focusing more on Eastern Washington. “The results are reflective of what’s happening in our country right now and the decisions being made at a national level,” she said.
“The whole idea of a blue wave is to get people activated to make real change,” Dabler said.
While our focus is on our own region, it is worth taking a look at how primary elections turned out in other parts of the state.
According to The Olympian, as of Friday Democrats had a majority of votes in 16 state House races currently held by Republicans and in another four GOP seats in the Senate.
Republicans were losing from Clark County to Whatcom County, in Grays Harbor and in the suburbs surrounding Seattle and Tacoma, The Olympian reported.
Among the noteworthy races in the Tri-Cities is a Franklin County Commission race.
Zahra Roach, a Democrat, won 32 percent of the primary vote. She will face Clint Didier, an outspoken Franklin County farmer who received more than 39 percent.
Both led three-term Republican incumbent Rick Miller and Rodney “Dobie” Burns, a right-leaning independent.
And in a surprise twist, a Democrat write-in candidate received enough votes to make it to the November ballot to challenge Franklin County Auditor Matt Beaton, a Republican.
So far, Diana Izaguirre received 315 votes out of 8,575 cast, giving her 3.67 percent. She only needed 1 percent to move on to the general election.
Ever since Washington state implemented the Top 2 Primary system about a decade ago, voters have taken for granted that they can vote for any candidate they want, regardless of party affiliation.
That meant in Benton and Franklin counties, two Republican candidates offering similar views often would face each other in November.
This time around we will have a more diverse ballot, and voters will have a wider variety to consider. That’s a healthy development –especially for those who don’t always care to pick a color.