Best New Congressional District

The New 9th

Well, they're all new this year—but some are newer than others. A creation of two mad (political) scientists, three-term Republican Senator Slade Gorton and Tim "The Shark" Ceis, Greg Nickels' consigliere, The New 9th isn't what it used to be. The old 9th, created as a swing district in 1992 and revamped after the 2000 census, was classic south King/north Pierce, a mass of fast-growing suburbia spilling down from Seattle's southern edge like a lahar, skirting most of Tacoma but flowing past Olympia deep into Thurston County. The new 9th—a product of the 10th's creation, the 8th's expansion south and east, and alterations to the 6th and 7th—is smaller, denser, younger, and darker. The old district was two-thirds white, a number that falls to just under 50 percent in the new district. How that translates to registered voters and actual votes this November remains to be seen. The 9th, which now contains more King County residents than the Seattle-based 7th, has been represented since 1997 by Adam Smith, a moderate, blue-collar Democrat who has seen his district's demographics lurch to the left while he stayed rooted in the center. He's no longer that great a fit for his constituency: The hawkish Smith's stature as ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee means less now that Joint Base Lewis-McChord has been excised from his district. The 9th was created to increase the chances of electing a congressperson of color. Eventually, it will. MICHAEL MAHONEY

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