From the desk of Michael Shaw.
Updated November 5th, 2020.
Unlike the national stage, most Washington State executive and legislative races are predicable with incumbents winning in most cases. This is also true of the congressional races where the incumbents all won reelection (in the open 10th congressional district Marilyn Strickland is winning). While votes are still being counted throughout the state, clearly Governor Inslee will be reelected to his third term and the Democrats will retain majorities in both the House and Senate.
In the state senate, despite running behind in early returns, incumbent Senators Muzzall (Republican in the 10thDistrict) and Mullet (Democrat from the 5th District) have pulled ahead in their races - by 300 votes and 18 votes, respectively. If these voting trends continue, both will go back to Olympia. This is not likely the case for 19th District Democratic Senator, Dean Takko. The current Senate Local Government Committee is behind Republican challenger, Jeff Wilson, by 9 points (45% to 54%). Similarly, incumbent Republican Senator Steve O’Ban from the 28th District is losing to Democratic challenger, Twina Nobles, however, that race has tightened up slightly as votes continue to be counted. If these trends hold, the Senate majority/minority split will stay the same, 29-20.
In the House of Representative, that same dynamic applies - most incumbents will be reelected, and the Democrat/Republican split will likely remain 57-41. However, there are more open seats in play in the House races and the Democrats may pick up a seat in the 10th District, position 1, which was held by Republican Norma Smith. Currently, Democrat, Angie Homola, leads Republican Greg Gilday by 400 votes. While that is a slim lead, that lead was a slimmer 92 votes yesterday. Other races where incumbents are currently losing include:
District 11: Long-time Democratic incumbent Zack Hudgins is losing to progressive Democrat David Hackney by the substantial margin of 61% to 35%. That margin has held steady over the last two days.
District 19: Long-time Democratic incumbent Brian Blake is losing to his Republican challenger, Joel McEntire by about 2,000 votes – a 52% to 48% margin.
District 42: Republican incumbent Luanne Van Werven is losing her race by a 51% to 49% margin. That race has slightly tightened. This rural Whatcom County district has been a Republican district of decades, so this is one of the surprises of the 2020 general election.
State Executive Races
Governor – Jay Inslee (D) easily won a third term with over 57% of the vote. The Republican challenger, Loren Culp, received 42% of the vote.
Lt. Governor – Congressman Denny Heck has a large lead over his fellow Democrat, Sen. Marko Liias (46% to 34%). A Republican write-in campaign prevailed in 8 of the 39 counties. Heck won the remainder of the counties except for San Juan County, which supported Liias.
Secretary of State – Republican Kim Wyman appears to have won re-election over Rep. Gael Tarleton (D) by a 53% to 47% margin. Wyman would be the only Republican to win a statewide election.
State Treasurer – Rep. Mike Pellicciotti leads incumbent Republican Duan Davidson, 54% to 46%. Davidson was a former county treasurer while Pellicciotti is a former deputy prosecuting attorney.
State Auditor – Incumbent Democrat Pat McCarthy likely will win re-election over Republican Chris Leyba, currently 59% to 41%.
Attorney General - Incumbent Democrat Bob Ferguson is ahead 57% to Republican Matt Larkin’s 42%.
Commissioner of Public Lands – Democratic Incumbent Hilary Franz will beat Republican Sue Pederson – currently by a58% to 42% margin.
Superintendent of Public Instruction – Incumbent Chris Reykdal leads Maia Espinoza 55% to 44%. This race was seemingly tied to the R-90, the sex education referendum. While a non-partisan position, State Republicans tried to make this a 2020 wedge issue and Espinoza was the face of that opposition. However, R-90 is passing by a 59% to 41% margin, mirroring many of the election totals mentioned above in the partisan state-wide races, winning in urban Western Washington while failing in much of rural Washington.
Insurance Commissioner – Democrat incumbent Mike Kreidler will beat Republican Chirayu Patel by the largest margin of any of the state races, 66% to 33%.
While our state elected officials will largely be the same, and with similarly legislative leadership (except for a few committee chairs), the COVID pandemic and its ramifications will provide a unique challenge. The 2021 legislative session will be largely virtual with legislative committees will be held via Zoom. Legislators will caucus via Microsoft Teams software. Only the elected officials and some staff will be allowed to be on the capitol campus.