In the comments of last weeks post on a budget for Sound Transit 3, several commenters noted that getting the funding authority for Sound Transit would be impossible so long as the GOP controls the State Senate. I thought I would go through what the post-primary situation looks like and if the lack of hope displayed by many commenters is justified.
Right now the Republicans have a de-facto 26 to 23 edge in the State Senate, de-facto because they have gotten an assist from turncoat Democrats Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon. Senate seats are a zero sum game, so that three person edge is actually just two seats, the GOP loses a seat for every one the Democrats gain. Rodney Tom’s seat in the 48th district was won overwhelmingly by Cyrus Habib in the primary, by just over 29 points. Assuming that the popular Habib can repeat his performance that would cut the GOPs edge down to 25-24.
The question then is this: where is the other seat going to come from? One possibility is the 35th where Irene Bowling leads both Tim Sheldon and Republican Travis Couture (who unfortunately doesn’t seem to have used Hi Couture or Haute Couture as his campaign slogan). Since Mr. Couture came in 3rd and the Republicans will probably defect to Tim Sheldon, it seems likely that the current victory would turn into an almost 30 point defeat.
The next best performance by a Democratic candidate was by Matt Isenhower in the 45th who lost by 7.5 points to Andy Hill. 7.5 points may seem like a great deal, but because two candidate race margins are a zero sum game just like the composition of the senate as a whole listed above, it would only take a 3.75 point swing (4 if we want to be safe) to flip the district.
The 45th has several other advantages for Seattle transit advocates compared to other districts. The 45th has a pair of incumbent Democratic State Legislators which won by margins bigger than Andy Hill’s margin of victory, but could use shoring up. The 45th is very close to Seattle compared to the other competitive districts and is accessible directly from Seattle using many Sound Transit and Metro routes Such as the 268, 542 and 545.
One of the reasons Matt is running is because the Senate didn’t pass a transportation package when the House did. Having divided government is impairing the normal functioning of the state and imperiling Sound Transit’s ability to put ST3 on the ballot in 2016, when it will be coming what appears will be the early and $150 million under budget opening of University Link and have our best chance at electoral success.
With the additional turn out in the general election this district will be very close, four years ago Andy Hill won by less than 1200 votes in a very Republican leaning year. With our support Matt Isenhower could flip the Senate and help Sound Transit get the funding authority it needs.