Washington 1st District
In the past 30 years, metropolitan Seattle grew to the north and to the east, as a wave of newcomers arrived seeking the area’s distinctive blend of natural beauty, robust and creative economic expansion and freewheeling culture. In the process, some of the distinctiveness of the old Seattle was left behind. The fishy odor of its docks does not permeate new subdivisions built on vegetable fields and vineyards. The Scandinavian heritage of old neighborhoods like Ballard has been muted into a Pacific Northwest blend. The heart of new Seattle is east of Lake Washington, in the edge city of Redmond. Here are the turquoise, pine-shaded, low-rise buildings of the Microsoft campus—a tranquil environment for a booming and boisterously aggressive company. With more than 40,000 employees in the Puget Sound area, the company in 2006 undertook a $1 billion expansion of its 300-acre Redmond campus, but then put major parts of the massive project on hold when the economy soured in 2008 and 2009. Still, Microsoft has fueled Redmond’s transformation from a sleepy hamlet of 1,426 people in 1960 to a hip center of commerce with more than 49,000 people. Not far away, on the eastern shore of Lake Washington, are the homes and estates of the newly rich “Microsoft millionaires” who exercised company stock options before the economic bust.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 1st Congressional District of Washington includes most of Redmond, many of the other suburbs east of Seattle, Shoreline in the northwest corner of King County, and Kirkland, where Google’s research and development center came up with Google Maps. It also takes in Edmonds, Lynnwood, Mukilteo and biotech-heavy Bothell. Booming growth during the 1990s has been followed by some resistance to increased urbanization. Across Puget Sound, the 1st includes the northern tip of Kitsap County and Bainbridge Island, where residents commute by ferry to downtown Seattle, and the Trident Submarine Base in Bangor. Politically, this area has been torn by forces of roughly equal strength—cultural liberalism and economic conservatism—though the former seems predominant. Most Seattle area residents appreciate, and want to preserve, the region’s unique natural aura: the evergreen smell of well-watered land and the regional style that is plainly American yet distinct. But it is impossible not to recognize the spectacular success of market economics in the 1st District.