Washington 5th District
Eastern Washington is a land of great rivers and bare parched land, where the Columbia, Spokane and Snake rivers wind among vast plateaus, bringing water from the Rockies to the desert. Spokane grew up at the falls of the Spokane River when the railroads first came through, and early in the 20th century, it became a major wheat, mining, electrical and railroad center. It celebrated with the 1974 World’s Fair and Exposition on the downtown riverfront. Nearby are some of the most fascinating landscapes in the United States: undulating yellow wheat fields on the rolling ridges of the Palouse, where the wheat-growing topsoil is 200 feet deep; bare-rock coulees rising above dammed-up lakes and barren desert; and the vast wilderness of Okanogan County, which has long been gold country. Construction of a new mine began in January 2008 after an agreement was reached with local conservation groups on water-quality monitoring. This is remote and inhospitable land. The summers can be blazing hot and the winters bitter cold. Many rivers run wild. But much of it has been tamed by man, and the water from the Grand Coulee and other dams irrigates some of the richest farmland in the country.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 5th Congressional District of Washington covers the easternmost part of the state. Two-thirds of the people here live in greater Spokane, a city whose voting habits have grown apart from the Washington west of the Cascades, especially on natural resource issues. Several Spokane area politicians have called for creating a 51st state of Eastern Washington, with 60% of the current state’s land and 22% of its population. Near the Oregon border is Walla Walla, long dependent on wheat and sweet onions but now attracting tourists with its budding wine industry. The political inclinations are Republican, but not as Republican as most of the nearby Rocky Mountain states. Spokane County voted for Democrat Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996, but Republican George W. Bush won the county 56%-44% in 2004. In 2008, Republican presidential nominee John McCain carried the county 49%-48% and won the district 52%-46%.