Better know the 46th Legislative District

Location – North Seattle
   Senate: David Frockt (D), 2012 (special election)
   House 1: Gerry Pollet (D)
   House 2: Phyllis Gutierrez-Kenney (D), retiring

Under the 2001 Legislative District map, the northern border of the 46th was the entire northern city line (Sound to Lake) of Seattle. It was one of three LDs completely contained within the city, joining the 36th and the 43rd. Unlike those other Seattle-only LDs, which were also entirely within the 7th Congressional District, a small portion of the 46th was in the 2001 version of the 1st CD. The 2001 borders of the 46th LD, at a 1:60,000 scale, are shown below:


For reference, the 2001 boundaries of LDs are the pink/purple region. Major bodies of water are blue, major roads (state or federal highways, for the most part) are red lines, counties are named in ALL-CAPS ITALICS and delineated with heavy black lines, precincts are lighter black lines, and cities are displayed as blue “dot in square” symbols and name labels. These color conventions will be used throughout this series, and additional conventions will be described as we display them on maps.

The 2001 version of the 46th LD, then, consisted of northern and northeastern Seattle. In the new 2011 map, the 46th breaks out of Seattle, generally moving to the northeast of its previous location. It loses its former western portion to the 36th and 32nd Districts; the latter LD regains some of the Seattle precincts it had had in 1991. The 46th’s border with the 43rd is slightly changed, and it takes its new non-Seattle section largely from the old 32nd. In the following map of the new 46th, the LD is shaded in green. This map also shows the boundaries of the 2011 Congressional Districts, marked in thick dashed blue lines and labeled as “WA-x“.

Note also that all maps in this post cover exactly the same area, at the same scale (1:60,000 for the 46th LD). The only differences are in the “layers” placed on the map.


As in the 2001 map, the 46th is mostly in the 7th CD, with a portion in the 1st (though of course it’s a very different CD than the old 1st Congressional District). The 46th now extends up and around the northern end of Lake Washington. The King-Snohomish county boundary now defines the northern border of the LD and the southern border of the 2nd CD. None of the new 46th Legislative District is in the new 2nd Congressional District.

Now that we’ve seen the old and new borders of the 46th, let’s superimpose them on one another. That will more clearly display where and how the boundaries of the LD have changed. In the map below, the colors of the earlier maps are retained where there is no overlap. Territory that is no longer in the 46th Legislative District remains pink/purple, and areas newly encompassed by the 46th remain green. Areas within both the 2001 and 2011 versions of the LD are displayed as a brown region.


So how will these changes affect this year’s elections in the 46th? Let’s make it clear from the start — there’s no chance whatsoever that a Republican will win any of the LD’s seats in the Legislature. Lake Forest Park and Kenmore are just as Democratic as Broadview and the northwest corner of Seattle. Although two of the three seats have incumbents, neither Frockt nor Pollet was elected to his current position. Frockt did stand for election to the House 1 seat before being elevated to the Senate after Scott White’s untimely death, but Pollet is in the House based only on the votes of PCOs (in the old 46th). The principal factor to be considered by the candidates, then, is making themselves known to their new non-Seattle constituents. I would suggest that those candidates whose political bases are rooted primarily in the 46th District Democrats organization might be at something of a disadvantage against those who are better know “publicly”.

In the race for the open House 2 seat, the action will likely unfold in both the primary and the general election. It’s possible, however, that the crowd of Democratic candidates might divide the primary vote so evenly that the Republican (yes, there is one) could sneak into one of the two November slots. That would make it less bloody in the general, as the surviving Dem would be a sure thing if facing a Republican, but I doubt that any of the Democrats are working under that assumption.

What might have been a wildcard thrown into the mix — a candidate living in the new non-Seattle portion of the 46th — appears to have been circumvented. The Lake Forest Park home of Representative Ruth Kagi (D-32) was redistricted into the 46th, but she has already stated that she will move into the reconfigured 32nd LD and run for re-election there.

While the filing deadline is still almost three weeks in the future, Senator Frockt is currently running unopposed. Representative Pollet has drawn one Democratic opponent thus far, though the choice of which seat a candidate might run for is still fluid. Also, there’s nominally still time for a non-Seattle candidate to throw his/her hat in the ring, though it doesn’t seem likely.

Open seats in Legislative Districts almost always draw large packs of aspiring candidates. Significant alterations in district boundaries, as in the 46th (and the 11th, but not 36th), add even more spice to the competition.


  1. 1

    I Got Nuthin' spews:

    Great wonky analysis. It’s posts like this that keep me coming back to HA. Thank you!

  2. 2

    Richard Pope spews:

    I would have to take serious issue with the claim that Lake Forest Park and Kenmore are just as Democratic as Seattle. They certainly lean Democratic, but are nowhere near the overwhelming Democratic situation presented in Seattle.

    Lake Forest Park and Kenmore frequently elected self-described Republicans to their non-partisan City Councils. The mayor of Kenmore, David Baker, is a Republican who has run several times (without success, of course) for the state legislature under the Republican label.

    The 46th LD is still safely Democratic, but somewhat less so than before. With 5 or 6 Democrats running for Position 2, I would say it would be almost certain for a single Republican to make it to the general election, if only one self-described Republican files for the position.

  3. 4



    Richard, it’s North Seattle (Northwest, actually). If the 46th had lost Capital Hill or Queen Anne or Fremont, that would be different. But the section they lost is probably more like conservative-for-Seattle Magnolia than the other neighborhoods I just mentioned. Still, I appreciate the information you provide.

    As for that Republican who’s filed for the House in the 46th, I have no idea whether he’s serious or a gadfly (not that you’d know about such candidates :-) ). He hasn’t yet filed any reports of contributions or expenditures. However, his C1 is hand-written and he doesn’t name a treasurer, so…

    Your point on the general election is well taken. It’s not like we’re talking about the 43rd, where our last open seat in 2006 resulted in a primary where the one Republican drew less than three-quarters of the vote count accumulated by the sixth (and last) Democratic contender.

  4. 5

    Tom Fitz spews:

    I live in Kenmore and now am a PCO in the 46th. Starting from a base of no knowledge of the 46th Dist. legislators, I waited until the candidate Q&A at the nominating meeting to make up my mind about House seat 2. I thought Sarajane Siegfriedt killed it, even tho’ the Seattle-based political press doesn’t seem to think much of her (other PCOs agreed: she got over 60% of the vote in a 4-way race).

    I’d like to hear what people think about how legislative races in safe D or R districts will be affected by the top-two primary. It looks like campaigns will be longer and more expensive in these districts because the primary will essentially continue on from August to November.

  5. 6

    Moag spews:

    @5 The top-two primary may result in campaign that is longer and more expensive, but that’s because there will actually be a significant campaign in the general, assuming two Democrats get through the primary. Under the old system (and under this one, if a Republican sneaks through a divided pack of Dems), the general election is less expensive but also utterly pointless. I’d choose more costly and meaningful over less costly and meaningless.