In Our View: Red, Blue and Purple

Clark County's three legislative districts strengthened their political reputations



Some statewide ramifications of Tuesday’s election gained clarity with Wednesday’s release of more results, but some matters remain undecided. The governor’s race is still too close to call. And three tight races (including one here) have kept majority control of the state Senate in doubt.But in this corner of the state, it’s business as usual. The political persuasions of the three legislative districts that serve exclusively Clark County remain clearly defined, even strengthened. We’re seeing sharp shades of red, blue and purple. We like it that way, because it keeps our community in the state spotlight and enriches the local quality of life with a diversity of political thought.

The 18th District (most of North County plus Camas and Washougal) remains conservative to the core. No liberal challenger came within 20 percentage points of the Republicans on Tuesday night.

The 49th Legislative District (Vancouver west of Interstate 205 and south of Felida) is as liberal as ever. None of three conservative challengers on Tuesday came within 20 percentage points of the Democrats.

The 17th District (Vancouver east of I-205, plus Orchards, Brush Prairie and the WSUV area) fortified its brand as an amalgamation of ideologies. One Republican state representative (Paul Harris) won handily, but the other state rep’s race — plus the battle for state senator — are going down to the wire. And it’s that third showdown between incumbent Republican state Sen. Don Benton and Democratic challenger Tim Probst that the rest of the state is following. Probst held a slight lead late Tuesday night, and that lead was even tighter after Wednesday’s vote count. This is one of those three down-to-the-wire races that will determine the crucial majority control of the state Senate.

Likely, we’ll know by Friday as more ballots are counted.

Observations about Clark County:

Does David Madore’s defeat of incumbent Clark County Commissioner Marc Boldt portend increased turmoil on the three-man board? Technically, both are Republicans, but Madore is more to the right than Boldt, evidenced by Boldt’s expulsion from the local GOP website. Republican incumbent Tom Mielke and Democrat Joe Tanner have yet to decide their race; Mielke’s lead grew a little Wednesday. The third county commissioner, Democrat Steve Stuart, is accustomed to working with two Republicans.

On Wednesday, Stuart said: “It’s too early to tell how the new board will work together. Many of (Madore’s) priorities — streamlining government and making it more business friendly — are things we’ve already established as priorities.”

The big challenge now is self-created by Madore, who campaigned largely on a cut-costs, reduce-government platform. We never heard him mention the fact that the county already has cut $63 million from its budget in the past five years and eliminated 270 positions. How Madore will extend those reductions will be interesting to see.

For all three county commissioners — whoever they ultimately are — the most revealing test is how well they can avoid micromanaging this most-inclusive of local jurisdictions. The county is run by skilled, well-trained department heads, administrators who make recommendations to the elected officials, who set policy. How effectively the politicians continue that model will in large part determine how much turmoil will unfold in coming months.