Republicans hoping for 1994 repeat this November



Posted on July 16, 2010 at 5:25 PM

Updated Friday, Jul 16 at 5:32 PM

SEATTLE – Republicans in Washington state are hoping to party this November like it's1994.

Washington is often considered a blue state, meaning Democrats hold a solid majority of offices and seats. But in 1994, it was a sea of red. With Pres. Obama's popularity falling and the economy still lagging, Republicans say a repeat is possible.

"I think it's a great year to not be part of the group of people that created the problem in the first place," said Republican Joe Fain, who is running for the state Senate in the 47th District.

Defending that seat is Senator Claudia Kauffman. Four years ago, she won by four points in this swing district. Kauffman downplays party labels, saying she believes politics are local.

"The local community leaders, the moms and the dads, the retired folks, and the veterans within my community, so it is all local," says Kauffman.

The election of 1994 is proof that a Republican wave can sweep Washington state. That was the year Republicans captured seven of the state's nine congressional seats, ousting Democrats like Maria Cantwell, Mike Kreidler even Speaker of the House Tom Foley.

The 1994 Republican wave also hit Olympia. Could that happen in 2010?

Democrats now control the state senate and have a 26 seat advantage in the state house.

"People talk about '94, they actually forget what happened. Republicans went from 33 seats in the state house to 62 seats in the state house," said Republican consultant Chris Vance.

University of Washington professor David Domke has doubts.

"The Republican brand identity nationally is not very good," says Domke. He says Democrats are more organized on the ground and he says, unlike 1994, Republicans have yet to find a simple message. "The public says you haven't given us a real reason to come to you yet. And George W. Bush is still fresh in people's minds."

But, there are some parallels between 2010 and 1994. Back then, Hillary Clinton was pushing health care reform. We've been through that debate in 2010, plus a bad economy and high unemployment.

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