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Wyman has small lead for Secretary of State; Davidson losing treasurer’s race to Pellicciotti

UPDATED: Tue., Nov. 3, 2020

State Rep. Gael Tarleton, left, is running against incumbent Secretary of State Kim Wyman in the November election.
State Rep. Gael Tarleton, left, is running against incumbent Secretary of State Kim Wyman in the November election.

Democrats are hoping to take over the two Republican-held statewide executive positions this election, and they’ll almost certainly win at least one.

As of Tuesday night, Democrat Mike Pellicciotti is leading in the treasurer’s race, while Democrat Gael Tarleton is within three percentage points of Republican Kim Wyman in the secretary of state’s race, although it was too close to call as of Tuesday night.

The secretary of state’s race became closer in the last leg as misinformation and confusion about vote-by-mail and the U.S. Postal Service swirled nationally.

State Rep. Tarleton made her campaign about criticizing Wyman for not doing enough to stand up to President Donald Trump’s attacks on vote-by-mail or ensuring confidence in Washington voters.

Tarleton said it’s the job of public officials to stand up for the rights of voters, while Wyman claimed it is not her job to be political regarding elections.

Tarleton believes her experience in cybersecurity would be beneficial in the role of secretary of state as election security has continually been questioned this cycle. Wyman believes her previous experience in elections, as county auditor and secretary of state, is beneficial in leading the state’s elections processes.

Throughout the campaign, both candidates questioned the other’s records and partisan ties, claiming the chief elections officer should be nonpartisan when it comes to elections. But both candidates have strong party ties, with endorsements and donations from state and local parties and politicians.

Pellicciotti is leading in the treasurer’s race, up about 12 percentage points against incumbent Duane Davidson.

Four years ago, Davidson was a rarity, a Republican from Eastern Washington who won statewide office in a state where the majority of its voters live on the West Side and trend Democratic.

But he was an experienced county treasurer, having served in that position in Benton County since 2003, and was competing against another Republican, investment manager Michael Waite, who had also come through the state’s top-two primary.

This year he had the advantage of incumbency, but for an office with a relatively low profile, while he had the disadvantage of running against Pellicciotti, a Democrat from King County who is also a sitting state legislator.

Davidson argued that his experience as a treasurer was more important. Pellicciotti, who is also a lawyer, countered that knowledge of the law and the ability to deal with the Legislature would be a better fit for the office.

Matched up in a head-to-head primary, a dry run for the general election, Pellicciotti received 157,000 more votes than Davidson.

The incumbent shook up his campaign staff, but the challenger maintained his lead in campaign contributions and was able to spend far more on television commercials after ballots were mailed out.

Spokesman-Review Reporter Jim Camden contributed to this report.

Laurel Demkovich's reporting for The Spokesman-Review is funded in part by Report for America and by members of the Spokane community. This story can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper’s managing editor.

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