By Diana Carlen
While ballots are still being counted, early results from the Nov. 3, 2020, election suggest that a combination of wins for both Republicans and Democrats even out to Democrats slightly increasing majorities in the both the state Senate and House of Representatives. However, the final election results will determine whether the legislature is more progressive. Notably, the areas where Republicans are picking up seats are in the 19th Legislative District, which are currently being represented by moderate Democrats who have been friendly to agriculture.
Voter turnout for Washington state is anticipated to reach record levels. The previous record was 84.6 percent in 2008. Voter turnout statistics will adjust as ballots are received over the next two weeks. It will be days if not weeks until we know the results in tight races.
Statewide Ballot Measures
Referendum 90: Voters have approved Referendum 90, which affirms the Legislature’s passage of Senate Bill 5395 concerning comprehensive sexual health education. The bill requires school districts to adopt or develop, consistent with state standards, comprehensive, age-appropriate sexual health education, as defined, for all students and excuse students if their parents request.
Constitutional Amendment for Funding Long Term Care Act: Voters rejected SJR 8212, which would have amended the state constitution to add the fund for long-term care services to be invested in a manner similar to public pensions.
State Executive Offices
Democrats currently hold all state executive offices except the Secretary of State and Treasurer position. Except for the State Treasurer position, incumbents for all state executive offices are prevailing over their challengers by significant margins. As predicted, the Secretary of State position is a very tight race. In the one open race for Lt. Governor, that was a Democrat v. Democrat, the moderate candidate is prevailing.
Governor: Two-term incumbent Jay Inslee (D) leads with 59.3 percent of the vote against challenger Loren Culp (R) at 40.41 percent.
Lt. Governor: Former Congressman Denny Heck (D), a moderate democrat has a significant lead with 47.11 percent of the vote over progressive democrat State Senator Marko Liias (D) with 33.65 percent of the vote. If Biden wins and Inslee is appointed to a position in his administration, the Lt. Governor will serve as Governor until a special election is scheduled.
Secretary of State: Incumbent Kim Wyman (R) leads with 51.8 percent of the vote against challenger Gael Tarleton (D), a retiring House legislator, who has 48.1 percent of the vote.
State Treasurer: Former state representative Mike Pellicciotti (D) is leading with 55.54 percent of the vote against incumbent Duane Davidson (R) who is trailing at 44.37 percent. Davidson won this position four years ago in an anomaly Republican v. Republican election.
State Auditor: Incumbent Pat McCarthy (D) leads with 60.39 percent against challenger Chris Leyba (R) with 39.53 percent.
State Attorney General: Incumbent Bob Ferguson (D) leads with 58.81 percent against challenger Matt Larkin (R) with 41.09 percent.
Commissioner of Public Lands: Incumbent Hilary Franz (D) leads at 59.03 percent against challenger Sue Kuehl Pederson (R) with 40.88 percent.
Superintendent of Public Instruction: Incumbent Chris Reykdal (D) leads with 56.68 percent against challenger Maia Espinoza (R) with 42.83 percent. Reykdal is a former legislator. Espinoza is a Latino community nonprofit director. This had been a race to watch, but the initial results are not showing the race to be as competitive as predicted.
Insurance Commissioner: Incumbent Mike Kreidler (D) leads with 67.57 percent against challenger Chirayu Avinash Patel (R) with 32 percent.
Democrats currently hold the majority in the Senate (27-22) and the House of Representatives (57-41). If early voting trends continue, Democrats would increase their majority by one in the Senate (28-21) and by three in the House (59-37). Several of these races are extremely close and could change as ballots continue to be counted. Additionally, in two King County races where the moderate Democrats faced progressive Democrat challengers, the challengers are currently prevailing. If these early results hold, Democrats will not only have larger majorities in the Senate and House, but each caucus will have more progressive members.
Senate: Early results suggest Democrats could win two new seats and Republicans will win one new seat, but there are come tight races that are too close to call.
- 10th Senate Seat (potential Democrat pickup) (Whidbey Island, Camano Island, and parts of Snohomish County): Helen Price Johnson (D), a county commissioner, is leading against newly appointed Senator Ron Muzzall (R) by 1,319 votes.
- 28th Senate Seat (potential Democrat pickup) (Lakewood, University Place, DuPont): T’wina Nobles (D) is leading against incumbent Senator Steve O’Ban (R) by 2,177 votes.
- 19th Senate Seat (Republican pickup) (Longview, Kelso, Long Beach): Challenger Jeff Wilson (R), a Port of Longview Commissioner, is prevailing over incumbent Senator Dean Takko (D) by 4,179 votes.
House: Early results suggest Democrats could potentially win three new seats and Republicans could win one new seat, but some races are too close to call.
- 10th House Seat (potential Democrat pickup) (Whidbey Island, Camano Island, and parts of Snohomish County): Former State Rep. Norma Smith (R) retired from this seat at the conclusion of the 2020 legislative session. Angie Homola (D) is prevailing over Greg Gilday (R) in this open seat by 1,763 votes.
- 42nd House Seat (potential Democrat pickup) (Blaine, Lynden, Ferndale): Democrat challenger Alicia Rule (D) is prevailing over incumbent Luanne Van Werven (R) by 2,526 votes.
- 17th House Seat (potential Democrat pickup) (Clark County): Democrat challenger Tanisha Harris is leading over incumbent Vicki Kraft (R) by 1,612 votes.
- 19th House Seat (potential Republican pickup) (Longview, Kelso, Long Beach): Republican challenger Joel McEntire (R) is leading over the incumbent Brian Blake (D), Chair of the House Agriculture Committee, by 1,269 votes.
Progressive Challengers to Moderate Democrats
- 5th Senate Seat (leaning progressive) (Issaquah, Sammamish): Incumbent moderate Mark Mullet (D) is trailing behind progressive challenger Ingrid Anderson (D), a nurse, by 967 votes. Unions have backed Anderson. In a rare move against an incumbent from his own party, Gov. Inslee endorsed and campaigned for Anderson as he seeks to pass stalled climate-change legislation such as a low carbon fuel standard.
- 11th House Seat (leaning progressive) (Seattle, Renton, Kent): Progressive challenger David Hackney is prevailing over moderate Zack Hudgins (D) 61 percent to 35 percent. King County still has a significant number of votes to count, but it’s unlikely that Hudgins could overcome these early results.