Rossi vs. Schrier -- dead heat in the 8th, other hot House races
Halloween is over, but Washington state can still deliver a horror show in Tuesday's national election.
Consider the prospect: The Democrats and Republicans are tied at 217 seats apiece in the U.S. House of Representatives. Only Washington's 8th District is undecided, as Dr. Kim Schrier and Dino Rossi continue to trade leads in endless polling.
The voters, however, are nothing but relieved that the $25 million campaign, with its cheek-to-jowl horror show of mud-slinging TV spots, has gone off their TV screens.
Sounds impossible, but . . .
Schrier vs. Rossi is tied at 45 percent apiece in the latest New York Times/Siena College poll. In 2000, with the Senate split 50-49, our race was the last decided, with Maria Cantwell giving Democrats a 50th seat by unseating GOP Sen. Slade Gorton by fewer than 3,000 votes.
The nation could have more than one race at which to be impatient with in Washington. Democrat Carolyn Long, a WSU-Vancouver political science professor, has moved up on low-profile Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler in the 3rd District of Southwest Washington.
Incumbent Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers is favored in the 5th District of Eastern Washington, but is the lone member of the House Republican leadership in danger of losing her seat. Ex-State Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown has mounted a spirited challenge for a seat classified "Safe Republican" a year ago.
McMorris Rodgers has received a glowing endorsement from President Trump, a visit from Vice President Mike Pence, and is now getting help with Latino voters from a front group of billionaire oilmen Charles and David Koch.
Three hot House races is unusual for Washington. The state's seven other House members are on the easy path to reelection.
She survived the nation's closest Senate race in 2000, but Sen. Cantwell is now on a path to reelection. Opponent Susan Hutchison, a former Republican state chairman, has thrown everything at Cantwell -- even George Soros.
Hutchison will help get out the Republican base, but if she is to get a public sector job, it will be if President Trump recognizes and rewards her effort with a federal appointment.
One other Washington politician has campaigned non-stop for recognition, but not here -- Gov. Jay Inslee.
Inslee is chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, in a year where the Dems are predicted to make major gains. He has shown off his wares in Iowa, scene of the first 2020 presidential caucuses, and campaigned in Wisconsin against GOP Gov. Scott Walker.
Inslee has Georgia on his mind this weekend, and is visiting the Peachtree State as Democrat Stacy Abrams seeks to become the first African-American woman elected Governor in America. (Inslee will find Oprah Winfrey hard to upstage, however.)
A normal last weekend in a Washington election campaign would see Inslee delivering his trademark hyperbole to a get-out-the-vote campaign rally for Democratic legislative candidates on the Eastside.
In 2018, however, the Democrats have a rising national star in place here -- Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who has sued the Trump administration 32 times. Ferguson is everywhere, and a presumptive future governor.
Democrats seem poised to do well with Inslee elsewhere: August primary results point to expanded majorities in both houses of the Legislature.
The Governor's environmental credentials would be burnished with passage of Initiative 1631, the measure that would slap a carbon fee on emissions of greenhouse gases. California Gov. Jerry Brown is retiring, so the title "America's greenest governor" is up for grabs. Inslee is a grabber.
The 2018 campaign has experienced highs and lows.
Debates in the McMorris Rodgers-Brown race have been spirited. Both candidates are well-known to Eastern Washington voters. McMorris Rodgers is the public face of Trump policies in Washington, but has discreetly tried to put distance from the 45th president on tariffs and immigration.
In the 3rd District, Herrera Beutler would not agree to a single one-on-one debate. Long has responded by holding town meetings across the sprawling district. She carried populous Clark County in the primary, and has embarked on a courtship of Trump country.
The Schrier-Rossi contest has inspired nobody.
It has been fought out on TV screens with relentlessly nasty TV spots, many paid for by outside "SuperPACS."
The barrage of mud-slinging was initiated by the Republicans' Congressional Leadership Fund, which has put $3 million-plus into the race. It falsely attacked Schrier's practice as a pediatrician. The Republicans' "axe murderer" ads are now claiming she would double the income tax.
Should Schrier accomplish all the nefarious deeds listed in GOP commercials, she would be the most influential rookie member of Congress in American history.
Schrier has benefited from big "independent" expenditures by such groups as ex-New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Independence USA, the House Majority PAC, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and League of Conservation Voters.
Only Conservation Voters, with its "Dino Rossi's Greatest Hits" spot, has shown any imagination. The SuperPAC ads lined up on morning TV have a boilerplate, cookie cutter aspect, leaving one to wonder if their consultant-creators could find Washington on a map.
The Schrier-Rossi race, with its barrage of nasty ads, has itself become an advertisement for why campaign finance reform is needed in America.