Jan. 6, 2016 — Democratic Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Seattle), who would turn 80 years of age at the beginning of the next Congress, announced yesterday that he will not seek a 15th term later this year. McDermott becomes the 34th House member not to run for re-election, and the 14th Democrat to voluntarily end his or her service as a federal Representative. Fourteen of the retiring members are instead running for the Senate.
The congressman leaves the downtown Seattle 7th district — which contains most of Seattle city proper along with the Vashon Island community sitting in the Puget Sound — that will assuredly elect a Democrat in his place. President Obama scored a huge 79 percent victory here in 2012, and the 7th proves itself to be one of the nation’s most liberal districts.
We can expect a very crowded Aug. 2 Democratic primary, one featuring a large number of elected officials. With no run-off system in Washington, the winning candidate will be able to claim the party nomination, which is tantamount to victory in November, with a low number of votes.
Prior to his retirement announcement, Rep. McDermott had already drawn one serious Democratic challenger, first-term state Representative Brady Walkinshaw. With retirement rumors swirling around McDermott for some time, many believed Walkinshaw announced his candidacy to gain an advantage over other eventual congressional opponents in anticipation of running an open seat campaign, rather than seriously planning a long-shot race against the veteran incumbent.
One individual always thought interested in replacing McDermott, then-state Sen. Ed Murray (D), likely won’t become a congressional candidate. Murray instead took office as Seattle’s mayor at the beginning of 2014.
With the Democratic presidential race already winnowing down into a two-way campaign between former Secretary of State and First Lady Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT), the contest is virtually decided.
Clinton will romp to victory and likely claim the party nomination right after Super Tuesday voting concludes on March 1.
The once close Iowa contest, the very state that began the ex-Secretary of State and New York senator’s eventual demise in 2008 at the hands of then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), is no longer such. According to the latest 10 published polls during the Nov. 16-Dec. 21 period, Clinton leads in every survey by an average of 15.2 percentage points. Her largest lead, 32 points (59-27 percent), came from the Loras College poll conducted during the Dec. 7-10 period.
New Hampshire remains a different story, and proves to be the only early state where Sen. Sanders has a legitimate chance of winning. In the last 10 polls, all taken during the Oct. 29-Dec. 22 span, both candidates lead in five different studies. In fact, in the five taken after Nov. 30, Sanders leads in three (averaging a 8.7 percent margin). In the two where Clinton has the edge, her advantage averages only 2.5 percent.
When the campaign turns to the southern states, which dominate the March 1 Super Tuesday voting, Clinton’s lead becomes overwhelming. In the 10 South Carolina polls conducted between Oct. 3-Dec. 17, for example, the former First Lady holds a whopping per poll average lead of 43.8 percent.
Her margins are similar to that found in South Carolina in other major southern Super Tuesday states, primarily Texas and Georgia. Florida and North Carolina, which vote two weeks later in March, are also producing huge Clinton numbers.
Hillary Clinton will soon have the advantage of beginning to prepare for a general election campaign long before she has an official Republican opponent. How she uses the precious lag time may well define her November prospects.