With ballot counts continuing around Washington, supporters of same-sex marriage claimed victory Wednesday, saying their projections convince them Referendum 74 will pass.
While they collected congratulations from the measure’s chief backers in the state Capitol, opponents said they weren’t ready to concede that Washington would join the small but growing list of states that allow same-sex marriage.
State Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, who sponsored the legislation that prompted the referendum, said at a news conference he had not set a date with his longtime partner, but they will eventually marry. If the lead holds, the state will begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Dec. 6 and they could marry starting Dec. 9, after the three-day wait required for all couples.
A handful of other contests also remained too close to call, including Washington’s race for governor. Democrat Jay Inslee said his campaign’s analysis of the voting trends make him confident his lead will hold up, and he was beginning discussion of setting up a transition team to ease his way into the state’s highest office.
But Randy Pepple, campaign manager for Republican candidate Rob McKenna, said his staff’s analysis convinced him McKenna will eventually pass Inslee as counties count ballots cast by voters who waited longer: “People that were deciding later were trending heavily in our favor.”
Wednesday evening, Inslee had a lead of slightly less than 50,000 votes, about the same as he had in election night tallies.
Because Washington will count any ballot that was postmarked by Tuesday, the result may be more than a week away.
Another doubtful race is for the office that runs elections. Republican Kim Wyman, the Thurston County auditor, maintains a slim lead over former state Sen. Kathleen Drew for secretary of state. Wyman was up about 25,000 votes Wednesday evening.
If that lead holds and McKenna doesn’t overtake Inslee, Wyman would be the only Republican holding statewide office.
King County Councilman Bob Ferguson was declared the winner of the race for attorney general. Ferguson pulled ahead of Republican Reagan Dunn, a fellow King County councilman, in votes counted Wednesday.
Lt. Gov. Brad Owen, Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark, Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler and Treasurer Jim McIntire, all Democratic incumbents, won re-election, and state Rep. Troy Kelley, also a Democrat, captured the state auditor’s position.
Initiative 1240, which would allow public schools to set up as many as 40 charter schools over the next five years, remained narrowly ahead after Wednesday’s ballot counts. Supporters had widened their lead to about 45,000 votes.