Washington Primary Results Analysis: What Does it Mean?

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Tuesday night’s primary election in Washington pushed a number of candidates through to the general election in November, where a number of district- and state-level seats are set to be filled. The balance of power in the Washington legislature is almost certainly in play as well.

These numbers will change as more votes are counted from late-mailing voters. In 2012, the Republicans gained some ground after the counting of late-mailed ballots; however, at present, the ballots counted are certainly a majority. We’ll keep you updated as the updates become available.

Here are some of the races to pay attention to as the election draws nearer.

Balance of Power in the State Senate

Several state senate races may well determine if the Republicans are able to maintain control in that chamber.

In the 5th District, incumbent Democrat Mark Mullet clings to a very narrow, 45-vote lead over challenger Chad Magendanz. Both will, of course, advance to the general election. While in the House, Magendanz voted against for the abortion insurance mandate and for the legalization of gay marriage, but also claims to support parental notification for abortion. Current Score: Mullet (D) 50.15%, Magendanz (R) 49.85%.

In the 10th District, incumbent Republican Senator Barbara Bailey gathered 51.4% of her district’s primary vote; however, both of her challengers were Democrats, who split the remaining 48.6% of the vote. If failed challenger Nick Petrish’s supporters consolidate behind Democrat Angie Homola, this could shape up to be a tight race in a district that has elected both Democrats and Republicans in recent years. Current Score: Bailey (R) 51.4%, Democrats 48.6%.

In the 17th District, Senator Don Benton is retiring, leaving the seat up for grabs in a narrowly contested race. Former Democrat Rep. Tim Probst holds a few hundred-vote lead over current-Rep. Lynda Wilson, who has vacated her seat in an attempt to keep the 17th in Republican hands. Current Score: Probst (D) 50.67%, Wilson (R) 49.33%.

In the 41st District, incumbent Republican Senator Steve Litzow holds just a 169-vote lead over Democrat challenger Lisa Wellman. Third-party Libertarian challenger Bryan Simonson picked up 590 votes in the race. If the numbers hold at present, Litzow will hold the seat. Litzow was one of the three Republican Senators that defected from the ranks to strike down Senator Doug Erickson’s attempt at reversing the Washington Human Rights Commission’s open-bathrooms rule. Current Score: Litzow (R) 48.72%, Wellman (D) 47.69%; 3.59% of votes cast have gone to Libertarian Bryan Simonson.

At present, Republicans hold a 26-23 lead in the Senate, including Senator Tim Sheldon from the 35th District (Shelton), a long-time Democrat who caucuses with the Republicans. If current results of the primary held through the general election, the Republicans would lose one seat, but retain leadership of the Senate 25-24. If Litzow loses control of the election in the 41st District, however, and Magendanz can’t overtake Mullet in the General, the Democrats would reclaim the senate majority by the same margin. However, if Litzow can hold his seat, Wilson holds the seat vacated by Don Benton in the 17th, and Magendanz could pick up Mark Mullet’s seat in the 5th, the Republicans would gain a seat.

In summary, the balance of power in the Senate is up for grabs.

 

Balance of Power in the State House

The primary elections in the Washington State House appear not to have an impact on the overall balance of power. Democrats, who hold a 50-48 majority, would retain the majority if the primary results carried over to the general election in November. After Tuesday night, Republicans are at risk of losing as many as six seats, while Democrats appear only to be at risk of losing one. Here are the races to watch:

District 5, Seat 2: The race is on to fill the seat vacated by Chad Magandanz, who is running for Senate in the District. Republican Paul Graves brought in 47.17% of the vote in the primary, however, his two Democrat challengers, Darcy Burner and Matt Larson, brought in a combined 52.83% of the vote. Graves will have his hands full keeping the seat in Republican hands.

District 6, Seat 1: In the race to replace a vacant seat left by Kevin Parker, Democrat Lynnette Vehrs pulled in the highest number of votes during the primary; however, three of four of Verhs’ challengers are Republican, meaning that Mike Volz will be the candidate to run to keep the seat in Republican hands. Current ballot counts show Democrat and Republican turnout to be almost a dead heat. Current Score: Vehrs 44.29%, Republicans 51.58%.

District 17, Seat 1: This seat, vacated by Rep. Lynda Wilson when she decided to run for the district’s Senate seat, will be a close race between Republican Vicki Craft and Democrat Sam Kim. In a crowded field, Republican candidates received 47.04% of the votes, while four Democrats split the remaining 52.96%.

District 26, Seat 1: Gig Harbor Rep. Jesse Young faces a tough re-election, capturing the primary lead by just 141 votes over Democrat challenger Larry Seaquist. In the field of four candidates, Republicans received 49.41% of the vote while Democrats received slightly more at 50.59%.

District 28, Seat 2: Incumbent Democrat Christine Kilduff captured a majority of her district’s vote Tuesday night, barely crossing the 50% threshold. However, her remaining opponents, all Republican and Libertarian, captured the remaining votes, separating the Democrats from the Republicans by only 264 votes.

District 30, Seat 1: Incumbent Republican Rep. Linda Kochmar trails Democrat challenger Mike Pellicciotti by 419 votes, nearly a four-point margin; currently 52-48%.

District 30, Seat 2: Incumbent Republican Rep. Teri Hickel currently trails Democrat challenger Kristine Reeves by just 55 votes. (50.23-49.77%) While late arriving ballots could change the final outcome of the primary, it appears this will be a very close race in November.

Statewide Office

Governor: Incumbent Governor Jay Inslee captured less than half of the votes cast in Tuesday’s primary. Republican challenger Bill Bryant came in second place, ahead of all other candidates by a wide margin. The race will likely come down to voter turnout; Republicans captured 43.5% of all votes cast while the Democrats and other minor parties captured the rest.

Lieutenant Governor: In a bit of a surprise race, the top two candidates to emerge from this race are Republican Marty McClendon and Democrat Senator Cyrus Habib. McClendon bested Habib by a full percentage point in a race that featured eleven candidates.

Supreme Court, Position 5: Chief Justice Barbara Madsen enjoyed a healthy showing in the Primary, besting opponent Greg Zempel by a wide margin. Both will head to the general election. Current results from the primary: Madsen 64.16%, Zempel 29.28%.

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