Rare red tide on the coast for Republicans — how will Democrats respond?

Washington’s most reliably Democratic county went red for the first time in nearly a century. How will Democrats respond?

John Hughes has lived in the most reliably Democratic county in Washington for seven decades and could sense this election year was different.

“I felt it coming. I could feel it in the tips of my toes,” said Hughes.

Hughes’ consistently blue county may surprise you. It’s not King County, where the majority of voters cast ballots for a Republican governor as recently as 1980 and voted for President Reagan in 1984.

Grays Harbor County hasn’t voted GOP for president since 1928. The Pacific Coast county last went for a Republican governor in 1924. And Democrats have represented Aberdeen in the state Legislature all but once since 1949.

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This year, voters flipped at all three levels to Republicans. In fact, seven of the nine Democrats up for a statewide office lost in Grays Harbor County.

That may not register on the political Richter scale at the state Democratic Party headquarters in Seattle — Jay Inslee won, Democrats picked up a seat in the state Senate and signature progressive measures on the minimum wage and guns easily passed.

But there’s an important message for Democrats to hear in Grays Harbor County’s flip to red this year. It is the equivalent of the nation’s Rust Belt revolt for Donald Trump. The Blue Dog Democrats came home to the party, generation after generation. This year, they voted with their feet.

Hughes retired as editor and publisher at The Daily World in Aberdeen after a 42-year journalism career and is now a state historian. His assessment: “Having a ‘D’ after your name is no longer a litmus test to get elected in Grays Harbor County. I trace everything to the radiating fear and loathing against Seattle liberals.”

Grays Harbor County, like the Rust Belt, has been left behind by the new economy….

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