[RSS readers: A previous version of this post was prematurely posted. See below for the most updated version.]
One bit of good news to come out of the election was a strong showing from pro-transit legislative candidates, particularly those we endorsed. The more surprising of these, which was actually more of an anti-endorsement than anything, was the defeat of Senator Mary Margaret Haugen by her Republican opponent, Barbara Bailey. As we outlined in our endorsement, the promotion of a new Senate Transportation Committee chair from a Haugen defeat gave us more to cheer about than anything in Bailey’s transportation platform.
Many commenters rightfully expressed the concern that losing Haugen in the Senate could eradicate a Democratic majority, a risk we were willing to take given the previous majority’s lukewarm attitude towards transit. At any rate, those fears were allayed after Democratic control was maintained by commanding victories from other Senate candidates
, including pro-transit standouts like Jessyn Farrell, Marko Liias, Jake Fey, among others.
Haugen’s defeat means that the current vice-chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, Tracey Eide, will most likely be elevated to chair, a position that can make the difference between transit legislation passing and failing. While Senator Eide doesn’t share the same pro-transit credentials as some of peers, her track-record for legislation friendly to transit advocates has been solid. Most recently, she’s made tangible commitments to light rail expansion southward, even as her fellow South King County legislators cried foul.
While Senator Eide has her work cut out for her, she’s proven to be a reliable vote for transit, and an even more valuable one now given a likely promotion to Transportation Committee chair. We have reason to be optimistic moving forward– but it will take commitment on all sides of the State government to get Olympia back into the picture.