From [NYTimes] It is the stuff of liberal fantasies: a vast, defiant territory, sweeping along the country’s Pacific coastline, governed by Democrats and resisting President Trump at every turn.
A single election in a wealthy Seattle suburb on Tuesday could make that scenario a reality, handing the party full control of government in Washington State — and extinguishing Republicans’ last fragile claim on power on the West Coast. The region has been a rare Democratic stronghold on an electoral map now dominated by vast swaths of red, and Republicans’ only toehold on power there has been a one-seat majority in the Washington State Senate.
The prospect of such far-reaching autonomy for Democrats, who already hold all three governors’ offices as well as both houses of the legislatures in Oregon and California, has infused extraordinary energy into what might have been a low-key special election. The race is on track to draw more than $9 million in campaign spending, a record-breaking sum for Washington State. National environmental and abortion rights groups have mobilized, business associations and oil companies have poured in money, and a former vice president, Joseph R. Biden Jr., has intervened on the Democratic side.
Sharon Nelson, the Democratic leader in the Washington State Senate, conveyed the party’s grand aspirations in an almost Trump-like phrase: “A blue wall,” Ms. Nelson enthused, “from the Canadian border to the Mexican border.”
Leading in the polls and anticipating victory, Democrats have sketched an aggressive agenda on issues where strong consensus appears to exist in the party, including new laws on gun control, contraception and environmental regulation. Ms. Nelson said she had met with the speaker of the Oregon Statehouse about enacting policy across state lines. The three states’ Democratic governors have spoken regularly about policy collaboration, and over the summer began coordinated talks on climate change with foreign heads of state.
Perhaps most ambitious of all, Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, harbors dreams of enacting a muscular carbon pricing plan along with California, Oregon and officials in Canada. In an interview, Mr. Inslee said the special election in Eastside Seattle could open the way for broad action, including taxing carbon but also joint initiatives on energy efficiency, research and clean water.
“We intend to make a full-scale effort in the next session of the Legislature if we win,” he said. “It will be a bell in the night, showing hope for the country, rejecting the Trump agenda of denying climate science.”
A coastal alliance, Mr. Inslee added, especially when cities such as Seattle and Portland, Ore., and throughout California are booming economically, would help make the case to a national audience that addressing climate change through energy policy is good for business and job creation.
“The more we can have uniformity in a carbon pricing system or regulatory system, the better,” he said.
Both parties see Democrats as favored to win the district, which voted heavily for Hillary Clinton in 2016. Republicans held the area’s State Senate seat largely because of the personal popularity of an incumbent lawmaker, Andy Hill, who died of lung cancer last fall.
Despite their dominance at the federal level and in most state capitals, West Coast Republicans have been driven to the point of extinction as the party’s standing has plummeted in prosperous cities and suburbs, from San Diego to Seattle. Their candidate in the State Senate race, Jinyoung Lee Englund, a polished former political operative, has strained to set herself apart from the national party, declaring that she did not vote for Mr. Trump in 2016 and pleading with voters to embrace divided government in Olympia.
Ms. Englund, 33, has campaigned explicitly against the “blue wall” scenario, warning that voters should not let Washington “go the way of California” and other one-party states. She expressed deep skepticism of Mr. Inslee’s climate proposals and suggested Democrats were mainly focused on trying to raise general revenue by another name. Republican groups have aired commercials saying that “Seattle liberals” could wreak havoc on the state’s finances if Democrats are allowed to govern unchecked.
“You don’t want to go the way of Oregon,” Ms. Englund said in an interview. “Washingtonians are more independent.”
Ms. Englund rebuked Democrats for what she characterized as using the state government as a partisan bludgeon. “I think that’s wrong,” she said. “The role of a state senator is not to go and lambaste what’s happening nationally.” [MORE]