Voters On Eastside May Dump Incumbents

Candidates count on losing sleep election night while they wait for the vote to be tallied. But on the Eastside, it's a safe bet other election-watchers will be up tomorrow night, too.

For the first time in many years, it appears the voters could send a couple of incumbent Eastside state legislators packing.

It's unlikely voters in the 41st, 45th and 48th districts will be throwing anyone out. But in two other districts, three incumbents could be in trouble tomorrow.

Mike Patrick, Republican state senator in the 47th District - a vast, diverse district including Kent, Renton, Maple Valley and part of the Sammamish Plateau - has the most to worry about.

But both Rick Bender and Paul King, 44th District Democrats, are also facing opponents who campaigned hard and did well in September's primaries. And both King's and Patrick's opponents raised more money than the incumbents.

The race for Patrick's seat is one of several statewide that could be pivotal in deciding whether Republicans maintain their one-vote Senate majority.

``That's truly become the hottest race on the Eastside,'' said Brett Bader, a Republican political consultant.

Patrick, who was appointed to the Senate last year after serving nine years in the state House, said this has been his most difficult campaign since the very first one.

His Democratic opponent, Sylvia Skratek, hit him hard on abortion rights, and charged he'd voted the wrong way on growth, transportation and education.

She won support from teachers, environmental groups and abortion-rights advocates, some of them Republicans.

``The last election was a cakewalk,'' Patrick said. ``This one hasn't been fun.''

Both he and Skratek, besides doorbelling and telephoning voters today, were anxiously awaiting what the other would say about them in the last of the campaign mailings.

``The hit mail - it's been absolutely untrue, and there's no way I can respond to it,'' Patrick said.

``He's started mailing hit pieces,'' Skratek said. ``I keep waiting for the big hit where he tears me apart.''

This campaign has taken a toll. ``I'm very tired,'' Patrick said.

``I'm exhausted,'' Skratek said.

Democrats currently hold all three seats in the 44th District, centered in Snohomish County but including Bothell. Going into the stretch, however, state Rep. Paul King, D-Mountlake Terrace, is running wobble-kneed against his Republican challenger.

King, an eight-year incumbent, has been hounded by charges of ineffectiveness. He ranked dead last in a Times survey of Puget-Sound-area lawmakers. Four daily newspapers and several weekly papers within the 44th District have endorsed King's opponent, Republican Marshall Paris.

Paris has lived in Bothell and run an insurance business there since 1949.

In the other 44th District races, Rep. Maria Cantwell, D-Mountlake Terrace, is expected to win in a walk for her third term over Republican Joyce Meyerson, but state Sen. Rick Bender, D-Bothell, has faced a spirited race from Republican challenger Tim Erwin.

Erwin, also a Bothell resident, has been campaigning hard to pull off an upset tomorrow. He's hoping voters will take to the polls in an ``anti-incumbency mood'' - a political wild card that even Bender admitted concerned him.

In fact, even the most secure legislator might toss a bit tonight.

``Politicians are paranoid,'' said Blair Butterworth, a Democratic political consultant. ``They all wake up in the middle of the night convinced something's going to happen, and they're going to lose and have to find honest employment.

``At some point, these people bolt up in the middle of the night, dripping sweat that the Lyndon LaRouche candidate won. Then they take another Alka-Seltzer, and their spouse says, `There, there, dear.' ''