Democrats to control state legislature with higher margins

By Diana Carlen
WAWG Lobbyist

Preliminary results from the November general election indicate that Democrats will maintain and significantly increase their majorities in the state Senate and state House of Representatives for the 2019 Legislative Session. 

 Based on election results available at the time of publication, Democrats increased their majority in the House from 50 to 57 and from 25 to 28 in the Senate. The balance of power is now 57 Democrats to 41 Republicans in the House and 28 Democrats to 21 Republicans in the Senate. However, there are a few races that are extremely close and subject to mandatory recounts. 

 Election results are certified by each county on Nov. 27, 2018. The Secretary of State certifies final results on Nov. 30, 2018. A mandatory recount is required when the difference between two candidates is less than one half of one percent and also less than 2,000 votes. 

 In the Senate, the following seats flipped to Democrat control: 

• 30th State Legislative District (Federal Way)-Democrat challenger Claire Wilson defeated Republican incumbent Sen. Mark Miloscia 54.22 percent to 45.78 percent. 

• 47th State Legislative District (Kent, Covington, Auburn)-Democrat challenger Mona Das defeated Republican incumbent Sen. Joe Fain 50.85 percent to 49.15 percent.

In the House, the following seats flipped to Democrat control: 

• 42nd State Legislative District (Ferndale, Lynden)-Democrat challenger Sharon Shewmake defeated Republican incumbent Rep. Vincent Buys 50.67 percent to 49.33 percent.

• 5th State Legislative District (Issaquah, Maple Valley, North Bend)-Democrats won both House seats in this district, which were previously held by Republicans. Democrat challenger Lisa Callan defeated Republican incumbent Rep. Paul Graves 52.23 percent to 47.77 percent. In the other seat, Democrat candidate Bill Ramos defeated Republican candidate Chad Magendanz 51.49 percent to 48.51 percent. 

• 10th State Legislative District (Whidbey Island, Camano)-Democrat challenger Dave Paul defeated Republican incumbent Dave Hayes 50.4 percent to 49.6 percent. 

• 28th State Legislative District (Lakewood, University Place, DuPont)-Democrat challenger Mari Leavitt defeated Republican incumbent Dick Muri 52.79 percent to 47.21 percent.

• 44th State Legislative District (Mill Creek, Lake Stevens)-Democrat challenger Jared Mead defeated Republican incumbent Rep. Mark Harmsworth 52.24 percent to 47.76 percent. 

• 47th State Legislative District (Kent, Covington)-Democrat challenger Debra Entenman defeated Republican incumbent Rep. Mark Hargrove 53.49 percent to 46.51 percent. 

No Democrats lost their seats to Republican challengers, however, Senate Economic Development & International Trade Chair Sen. Maralyn Chase (D-Shoreline) received 30.85 percent of the vote and was defeated by challenger Jesse Salomon (D), who had 69.15 percent of the vote. 

The following races are extremely close and headed to a recount:

• 42nd State Senate Legislative District (Ferndale, Lynden)-Republican incumbent Sen. Doug Ericksen is leading against Democrat challenger Pinky Vargas 50.04 percent to 49.96 percent. This race is currently 54 votes apart. 

• 26th State Senate Legislative District (Gig Harbor, Port Orchard)-This seat was previously held by Republican Sen. Jan Angel who chose not to run for re-election, leaving an open seat. Democrat candidate Emily Randall is currently leading 50.07 percent to 49.93 percent against Republican Marty McClendon. This race is currently 93 votes apart and may undergo a mandatory recount. 

• 42nd State House Legislative District (Ferndale, Lynden)-Both seats in this district are close. Republican incumbent Rep. Luanne Van Werven is leading 50.09 percent to 49.91 percent against Democrat challenger Justin Boneau. This race is 90 votes apart and will undergo a mandatory recount. 

There were several ballot measures this year that were hotly contested. All of the initiatives passed, except for I-1631, the proposed carbon fee.

• I-1631 (carbon fee)-This initiative proposed to be the first in the nation to charge large carbon emitters a pollution fee. This measure failed with only 43.44 percent in favor to 56.56 percent against. This is the second time the voters have rejected an initiative putting a price on carbon. 

• I-1634 (restricting local taxes on food/beverages)-This initiative prohibits local governments from imposing new taxes on soda or grocery items. The measure succeeded with 55.8 percent in favor, and 44.2 percent against.

• I-1639 (regulating firearms)-This initiative regulates the sale of semiautomatic rifles, including adding background checks and raising the purchase age to 21. The measure succeeded with 59.41 percent of the vote in favor to 40.59 percent against. A lawsuit has already been filed by the National Rifle Association and the Second Amendment Foundation challenging the new law.

• I-940 (police use of force)-This initiative changes the “use of force” rules for police, creates a duty for police to give first aid and requires additional mental health and de-escalation training. The measure passed with 59.6 percent in favor to 40.4 percent against.