The first returns for the 2016 Washington State primary election are in. With an all mail in ballot system it can take a few days to sort out the results of close races however election night returns usually provide a clear picture of where the electorate is at. Over the past 2 election cycles for the majority of races the primary election has indicated how the general election in November will go for each candidate. It is still to early to tell how much impact national and presidential elections could effect down ballot elections but these results would indicate that they are having an impact. The following is a general overview of the results from last night and some things may change in the coming days with additional ballots being counted.
Statewide Offices – All nine statewide officers are up for re-election. These offices are The Governor, Attorney General, State Auditor, Secretary of State, State Treasurer, Lt. Governor, State Lands Commissioner, the Office of Superintendent for Public Instruction and the Office of Insurance Commissioner. Incumbents have retired in positions for Lt. Governor, OSPI, Lands Commissioner, Auditor and Treasurer thereby creating a significant exodus of state legislators seeking statewide office. Democrats currently hold 7 of the 9 statewide offices (OSPI is non-partisan). Here’s a snapshot of primary election results in a few of these races:
Governor: Governor Jay Inslee 48.75% vs. Bill Bryant 38.14%. Common wisdom is that any incumbent who polls less than 50% in the primary is vulnerable. That said, we still think Governor Inslee will win re-election in November, but the race is closer than many expected.
Attorney General: AG Ferguson 72.8% vs. Libertarian Trumboll 27.22%. AG Ferguson will easily win re-election in November.
Lt. Governor: Top two primary winners appear to be Sen. Cyrus Habib (D) 19.57% and Marty McClendon (R) 20.35%. The combined Democrat vote was very strong, and we expect Sen. Habib (D) will win this race in November.
State Treasurer: In a surprise, it appears two Republicans will emerge in this race. Duane Davidson (R) currently holds 25.48% of the vote and Michael Waite holds 23.64%.
Superintendent of Public Instruction: Top two primary winners are Erin Jones at 22.75% and Rep. Chris Reykdal at 20.59%
State Supreme Court – One non-partisan state Supreme Court race was on the primary ballot. Chief Justice Barbara Madsen showed very strong receiving 64.28% of the vote to challenger Greg Zempel at 29.16%. Two other incumbent justices have challengers, so a total of three state Supreme Court races will appear on the November ballot. The Court has been criticized by some as being an “activist court” and overreaching on a number of issues, leading some legislative leaders to question whether the Court has blurred the line between judicial and legislative powers.
State Legislature – All 98 members of the state House of Representatives and 26 of the 49 state Senate seats are up for re-election this year. The state Legislature is currently as close to even as possible with 73 Democrats and 74 Republicans.
State Senate: The Senate is currently controlled by a 26-23 margin by Republicans (Majority Coalition Caucus consists of 25 Republicans and one Democrat). There are roughly 4 toss up seats, noted below, in the Senate. Democrats would need to take three of the four toss up seats to regain the majority. Right now control of the Senate is very much up for grabs. Here’s a look at the primary election numbers for the four toss up seats:
- 5th LD (Issaquah): Senator Mark Mullet (D) 50.15% to challenger Rep. Magendanz (R) 49.85%.
- 17th LD (Woodway/SW WA): Rep. Lynda Wilson (R) 49.33% vs. challenger Tim Probst (D) 50.67%.
- 28th LD (University Place): Senator Steve O’Ban (R) 53.9% vs. challenger Marisa Peloquin 46.1%.
- 41st LD (Mercer Island): Senator Steve Litzow (R) 48.7% vs. challenger Lisa Wellman (D) 47.7%.
Also noteworthy, in the Democrat-leaning 1st LD, the race between Rep. Moscosco (D) and challenger Guy Palumbo (D) is too close to call with just 45 votes separating the two. The ultimate Democratic nominee will face Republican Mindy Wirth in the general election who polled just 40.5%.
The House of Representatives is currently controlled by a 50-48 margin by Democrats. There are roughly 13 toss up House seats. This evening, 8 of the 13 toss up seats favored Republicans, 5 favored Democrats. If those results hold, Democrats will control the House by a 51 to 47 margin. Again, with turnout so low it’s very difficult to draw any definitive conclusions. Here’s a snapshot of some of the key races:
- Open 5th LD: Paul Graves (R) 47.17% vs. Darcy Burner (D) with 36.14%
- Open 17 LD: Vicki Craft (R) 31.95% vs. Sam Kim (D)21.51%
- Open 25 LD: Joyce McDonald (R) 55.95% vs. Michelle Chatterton (D) 44.05%
- 26th LD: Rep. Michelle Caldier (R) 56.26% vs. challenger Randy Spitzer (D) 43.74%
- 26th LD: Rep. Jesse Young (R) 37.74% vs. challenger Larry Seaquist (D) 36.95%
- 28th LD: Rep. Kristine Kilduff (D) 50.81% vs. challengerPaul Wagemann (R) 27.46%.
- 30th LD: Rep. Linda Kochmar (R) 48.23% vs. challengerMike Pellicciotti (D) 51.77%.
- 30th LD: Rep. Terri Hickel (R) 49.77 vs. challenger Kristine Reeves (D) 50.23%.
- Open 31st: Phil Fortunato (R) 39.51% vs. Lane Walthers (D) 37.13%.
- 35th LD: Rep. Dan Griffey (R) 54.05% vs. challenger Irene Bowling (D) 45.95%.
- 44th LD: Rep. Mark Harmsworth (R) 51.71% vs. challengerKatrina Ondracek (D) 31.12%.
- Open 44th LD: Janice Huxford (R) 45.23% vs. John Lovick(D) 51.95%.
- 47th LD: Rep. Pat Sullivan (D) 56.6% vs. challenger Barry Knowles (R) 43.3%.
General Election: All the above races will appear on the November general election ballot. Additionally, six initiatives will appear on the November ballot:
- I-732 – Creating a tax on carbon
- I-735 – Opposing the Citizen United court decision
- I-1433 – Increasing the minimum wage and paid sick leave
- I-1464 – Creating a state-funded campaign finance program
- I-1491 – Restricting firearms
- I-1501 – Increasing penalties for identity theft
By Brad Boswell, Boswell Consulting, CleanTech Alliance Lobbyist, Brad@boswellconsulting.org and Denny Eliason, Alliances Northwest (Puget Sound Energy Lobbyist)