Patty's Progress

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Aug. 18 2010 8:34 AM

Patty's Progress

There were no real surprises in last night's Washington state primaries, but the numbers Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wa.) put on the board make me more convinced that she can hold on in November. Washington, for reasons that escape me, changed its primary system in 2008 and created a jungle primary where candidates from all parties compete for two slots on the ballot. The only competitive races in the state were Republican-on-Republican contests in the 3rd district and the Senate race. And yet, if trends hold, Murray won 46.1 percent of the two-way vote; Dino Rossi, who has lost two narrow campaigns for governor and comes close to Murray in the polls, scored 34 percent. Around 11.9 percent went to former football player Clint Didier, who was endorsed by Sarah Palin and some tea party groups.

Add all the votes together and it looks like we'll see a 2-way split between Democratic and Republican votes. Is that good for Rossi? Well, in 2008's gubernatorial primary, we saw just about the same split between the parties. Gov. Christine Gregoire won 48.3 percent of the vote; Rossi won 46.4 percent. In the fall, Gregoire won by 7 points. Democrats tell me they're a bit less worried about this Senate race than, say, Wisconsin's race, because they feel Rossi is pretty well defined. I see what they mean.

David Weigel, a former Slate politics reporter, is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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