Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The elephants are in the room

Posted on Wed, Nov 3, 2010 at 8:32 AM

 Well, actually, the elephants are all over the House, as a turnabout of historic proportions has swept the Republican Party into control of one of the chambers of Congress. The GOP so far has picked up 60 seats in the House, with 11 races still undecided, and hold a commanding 239-185 majority.

Rep. Walt Minnick of Idaho's 1st Congressional District was one of 38 incumbent Democrats swept out by the red tide. He trailed state legislator and Boise immigration attorney Raul Labrador by about 8 percentage points from the get-go and, in an e-mail to The Inlander Wednesday morning, conceded:

"I placed a call to Raul and wished him every success as Idaho's next Congressman. I, in particular, hope he can be successful in working with the Administration and his colleagues of both parties in the exceedingly important task ahead of putting our country back to work and of balancing our nation's budget."

In Eastern Washington's reliably red 5th Congressional District (since the last GOP takeover in 1994), Cathy McMorris Rodgers handily won a fourth term. In her acceptance e-mail this morning, she went right to the jugular:

"I am looking forward to returning to Congress where I will continue fighting for tax relief, a balanced budget, free-market solutions to create jobs, and repealing and replacing the Obama health care bill."

 McMorris Rodgers is an up-and-comer in the GOP House leadership, currently serving as vice-chair of the House Republican Conference.

Kootenai County went as red as red could be. Two long-serving Democrats, County Clerk Dan English and deputy coroner Jody DeLucca Hissong, running for coroner, were both soundly defeated by GOP candidates. And every state-level Republican based in Kootenai County won election to the Legislature, including Rep. Phil Hart, who has been rocked by unpaid state and federal taxes, a state House special ethics committee recommendation that he be removed from the House Tax Committee,  and revelations that he stole timber from state land to build his house in Athol.

Spokane County, as ususal, was far more conservative than Washington as a whole. But, while U.S. Sen. Patty Murray is still hanging on by a percentage point or so, even the Evergreen State tilted to the right, rejecting measures that would help fund government, even repealing taxes on candy bars.

But what does it all really mean? Writer Peter Callahan of the News Tribune in Tacoma sees some major shakeups in his crystal ball. Gov. Christine Gregoire will call an immediate emergency session of the Legislature to fix the ginormous budget gap now that U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks can't become chairman of the House Apporopriations Committee. Doing his part to save money, Secretary of State Sam Reed will suggest the Legislature conduct all business by mail. And the state's jobless rate will spike with all the pollsters, letter carriers and TV ad sales people out of work.


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