The Evergreen State was dark blue on Tuesday as voters heavily favored Democrats in most statewide offices while also approving gay marriage and legalizing marijuana.
The strong showing for Democrats is centered in the state’s urban areas, particularly Seattle-King County. Those numbers so strongly favored Democrats that it simply engulfed the Republican support in Eastern Washington. It appears a lot of voters — on both sides of the Cascade — voted a straight party line.
That’s ironic in Washington’s statewide races as many of the Republican candidates seeking office — gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna, secretary of state candidate Kim Wyman and lieutenant governor candidate (and Whitman College graduate) Bill Finkbeiner — were politically moderate and, in our view, very well-qualified.
Secretary of State Sam Reed, a Republican who came of age in the party when centrist Republicans such as Dan Evans ruled, said prior to the election that the slate of GOP candidates were the best he had seen since the 1970s.
But because the national political parties seemed to have moved from the center to the edges, there was a backlash felt in independent- minded Washington. All some voters heard was a loud voice from the hard right in the national Repubican Party and they didn’t like it.
As of this morning, the only Republican leading is Wyman in the secretary of state race. She is up by less than 15,000 votes out of about 1.8 million counted. The race could go either way.
Democrat Jay Inslee looks like he will be the next governor as he essentially holds a 51-49 advantage over McKenna. It’s unlikely the voting trend will change. All of the other statewide races appear to have been won by Democrats.
Washington voters upheld the Legislature’s decision — albeit by a relatively close 52-48 margin — making gay marriage legal. That’s a position we have endorsed as a matter of equity. The rest of the nation has not yet embraced gay marriage, but it seems to be moving in that direction. Gay marriage was approved by voters Tuesday in Maine and Maryland.
Washington also took the lead (along with Colorado) in making pot legal. On that issue, we have some concerns, particularly on how the new law will mesh with federal law and with employers.
Marijuana is still against federal law, so an agreement will have to be worked out with the federal government or there will be trouble. Let’s hope the disputes are worked out by the two levels of government before citizens are caught in the crossfire.
And how are employers who have mandated drug tests for new hires to respond to state legalization? Where will folks be allowed to smoke pot? What level of consumption is too much to drive?
These and many more questions must be answered and very soon. The law is supposed to take effect Dec. 6.