SEATTLE – The big shift in congressional power in Washington D.C. still only means a small shift in Washington state's congressional delegation.
Nationwide, Republicans picked up 64 House seats in November, handing John Boehner the gavel of Speaker of the House. But things didn't change that much in our state, which only saw the open seat vacated by Democrat Brian Baird in the 3rd District go to Republican Jamie Herrera-Beutler. Washington now has five Democrats and four Republicans.
The Washington Post said Wednesday that Herrera-Beutler was one of the top ten freshmen to watch. She will serve on the transportation and small business committees.
Republicans are promising transparency to curb federal spending and to tackle the national debt.
"The first thing is, as in every Congress, is we want to work together," said Representative Dave Reichert, R-Wash.
The Republican fight to repeal health care reform will be the first test.
"There's a whole bunch of people who got elected here, promising they would come back and repeal health care, so I suppose we'll have a bit of a donnybrook here over that issue, but I think it's something worth fighting over," said Representative Jim McDermott, D-Wash.
Republicans control the House, but not the Senate or the White House. So, it remains to be seen how big a fight Republicans are willing to have.
Keep in mind, this all plays into the 2012 elections.
One very interesting poll Wednesday from USA Today and Gallup is party identification. Just two years ago as Obama won office, 36 percent of Americans identified themselves as Democrats compared to Republicans at 28 percent. But at the end of 2010, party identification for Democrats dropped to 31-percent, tying a 22-year low for them. Republicans were at 29 percent.
2012 is not only the year the president is up for re-election, but Senator Maria Cantwell, D-Wash, will be challenged as well. The Washington state governor's race will also be decided.