Meet the district that could change Washington state’s political landscape

By a fluke of fate and a consequence of math, the voters in the 45th Legislative District will likely decide the balance of power in the state Legislature.

Wineries, equestrian centers, communities for lucrative tech jobs: Washington’s 45th Legislative District reads like an advertisement for a particular sort of American dream.

The census data tells a story of good fortune: Compared to the average Washingtonian, people living on the Eastside are on average better-educated, better-paid and way less likely to be below the poverty line.

And by a fluke of fate and a consequence of math, the voters here will likely decide the balance of power in the state Legislature.

In the November election, 45th District voters will choose Democrat Manka Dhingra or Republican Jinyoung Lee Englund to fill the seat held by Sen. Andy Hill, R-Redmond, until his death last year from lung cancer.

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A Republican coalition currently has a one-vote majority in the Senate, while Democrats hold the state House and governor’s office. Control of the Senate has given Republicans huge leverage to negotiate the state’s operating budget and determine what issues get addressed — or ignored.

Democrats have fumed over that, and are seeking unified control to do more to address climate change, shore up social services and boost education funding through more progressive taxes.

When they mail in their ballots, the hopes and concerns of the voters in this district will ripple far beyond the Eastside.

And yet after a hard day’s work, the residents of the 45th District — which includes Woodinville and Duvall, and parts of Redmond, Kirkland and Sammamish — drop their heads to the pillow concerned about much the same as everyone else.

They worry about the quality of Washington’s school system and the traffic choking the roads and highways as the region struggles with growth, according to local officials. If they work a low-wage job, they probably worry about how to afford a life in the increasingly expensive region. If they clock in every day at Microsoft or Amazon, they might worry how their barista or deli clerk scratches out a living.

As for their politics, 45th District voters appear to be moving leftward.

Hill, a former Microsoft group manager with a reputation as a moderate Republican, barely won election in 2010 and got re-elected by fewer than 5 percentage points in…

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