A Red Tsunami? Not Hardly!


The final appeal for campaign money from Senate candidate Tiffany Smiley arrived in my email box at 7:27 p.m., complete with a Republican poll showing her pulling even with our longtime Democratic Sen. Patty Murray.

Forty-six minutes later, Smiley was toast.  NBC projected Murray’s reelection to a sixth term, buttressed by 74 percent of King County’s vote in the early count.

The “red tsunami” projected by ex-President Trump was expected to miss Washington but appears only to have inundated low-elevation Florida. The Sunshine State is already suffering from rising sea levels and ferocious climate-induced hurricanes. With control of the House still at issue, it doesn’t yet qualify even as a red tide.

With upcoming close quarters combat in Congress, our state’s team will be worth watching.

With retirement of Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vermont, Murray sits atop seniority in the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee.  Three Northwesterners – Sens. Warren Magnuson, Mark Hatfield and Ted Stevens – have chaired the committee in the past half-century.  Murray is already chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.  Will Democrats hold the Senate and will she move?

Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., has worked across the aisle as much as anybody in a bitterly divided House, chairing a bipartisan panel charged with improving its operations. He and Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash., who’ve chaired the New Democratic Coalition will have clout, especially in that a surprising number of centerist Democrats survived in contested districts.

If Republicans take command, the ineffable Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., will chair the House Energy and Commerce Committee. CMR has emerged as a kind of Rachel Carson-in-reverse, advocating a drill-baby-drill energy policy with renewed reliance on fossil fuels, more refineries and throwing open federal lands to the oil and gas industry.

She’ll rake in the campaign dollars and doll out the subsidies, at the expense of an Eastern Washington district feeling impacts of climate change with wildfires, prolonged drought, heat domes and record temperatures.

The 3rd District outcome will have consequences.  If MAGA Republican extremist Joe Kent pulls ahead, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ought to be caned for its non-support of Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez. If MGP wins in Southwest Washington, she will be a national model for how the Democrats win back Rust Belt and rural voters.

A spate of 11th Hour Republican polls predicted a red tsunami.  In our region, I remember GOP pollster Bob Moore predicting Slade Gorton’s reelection in 1986, putting Slade ahead in his 2000 campaign, with Moore Information coming out with a poll last weekend showing Tiffany Smiley overtaking Murray.

You can’t forecast the future . . . especially not now with down-the-middle divisions.

Oh yes, at 8:06 p.m. I received one more email from the Tiffany Smiley Election Day Donor Fund.  Its message:  “Help Tiffany bring home a huge win tonight.” The race had just been called for Murray.

Joel Connelly
Joel Connelly
I worked for Seattle Post-Intelligencer from 1973 until it ceased print publication in 2009, and SeattlePI.com from 2009 to 6/30/2020. During that time, I wrote about 9 presidential races, 11 Canadian and British Columbia elections‎, four doomed WPPSS nuclear plants, six Washington wilderness battles, creation of two national Monuments (Hanford Reach and San Juan Islands), a 104 million acre Alaska Lands Act, plus the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area.


  1. Friends and I have wondered why the last or past-minute plea for dollars. What is the obviously ridiculous rationale? Off-setting expenses for a loser seems strange.

  2. I think the leak and subsequent overturn of Roe v Wade was indeed a factor that lessoned GOP gains. I don’t think last night was a vote of confidence for Democrats, it was just not a vote of confidence for the opposition.

  3. One-party rule is hardly a good idea much less an ideal! However, statewide, 57-43 is clearly the straight-ticket ballot outcome. Thus, 57-43 would have been Tiffany Smiley’s final tally here in the State of Washington, money or no money, campaign or no campaign because political stripes (in the Evergreen State) are apparently indelible and inviolate.

  4. The refusal to support Perez in any meaningful way is an indicator that the Democratic Party may be incapable of understanding the basics of class in America. It was a show of profound disrespect. If they don’t wake up, there is no future for the party. Without abortion on the ballot I think we would be looking at complete Republican dominance in this election. The mass defection from the party by Florida Latinos means it will be unlikely the Democrats will hold the presidency for years. So I’d say take a nap for ten minutes and then get serious about listening to the voters. 80% of Black voters put crime at the top of their list of concerns: white voters were in the low 30’s. The National party threw its support for the mayor’s race in LA to the candidate least likely to respond to crime. (This piece by Peter Savodnik is an eye opener on the racial politics at work here. https://www.commonsense.news/p/the-hollywood-power-brokers-mugged)

    How much longer does the party think it can ignore its base?

  5. In previous election cycles the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has been accused of protecting the old lions in the House caucus rather than extending the reach of the party to moderate districts. As Michael Steele, the former head of the RNC, explained on MSNBC that’s been the traditional focus of these Congressional committees. He suggested party challengers would be better assisted by ‘outside groups.’
    Unfortunately the ‘outside groups’ that support Democrats lose interest in races outside the reach of national media and three time zones away.
    Perhaps it is time for local rich Dems who have been treated as ATMs by visiting national figures to turn their attention to underfunded state candidates such as MGP. Maybe Big Jay, who is still fundraising to tilt God-knows-what windmill, to create a Washington PAC to help build the state’s political bench. Just sayin ‘


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