Election night’s observances in Spokane County showed the distinction between the two parties’ approaches to the coronavirus pandemic.
Following the lead of President Donald Trump, local Republicans held an in-person event downtown that followed social-distancing protocols. The Spokane County Democratic Party opted to go above and beyond COVID-19 guidelines by holding a virtual election watch party, hosted by Rep Marcus Riccelli and chair Nicole Bishop.
The Democratic watch party livestreamed from Hamilton Studios featured a mix of prerecorded messages and live cut-ins via Zoom from local Democrats and congress members.
“Tonight we stand on our ideals as we broadcast from these chairs,” Bishop said. “It’s worth it to keep people safe and healthy.”
Campaigns in 2020 have been different, Riccelli said, without the ability to doorbell and hold in-person gatherings.
“I’m one of those people who believes in that person-to-person interaction,” Riccelli said. “There were fewer opportunities, but I was at least happy that there were some opportunities.”
Riccelli said that while he misses the energy of waiting for results in a crowded room and feeling that energy, the election watch party was a chance for local voters to hear from a wide variety of Democrats on election night, from U.S. Sen. Patty Murray to Attorney General Bob Ferguson.
Gov. Jay Inslee celebrated the large voter turnout.
“I think this is a great night for one reason. So many people voted in our state and in our nation,” Inslee said. “You have to celebrate that.”
Like most speakers Tuesday night, Inslee honored Spokane Valley Democratic icon, Sally Jackson, 88, who died this week.
Candidates Zack Zappone and Tom McGarry in the 6th Legislative District both thanked voters in prerecorded videos.
“I stepped up because I know we need to be fighting for working people,” McGarry said. “I am honored and grateful for your support.”
Shortly after finding out he is leading the race for lieutenant governor, Denny Heck shared his excitement.
“It’s incredibly humbling and an honor to hold these jobs,” Heck said. “I’m very, very grateful. It feels pretty good.”
Heck said he looks forward to tackling the issues that come with the 2020 legislative session, saying it would take “self-discipline” to get everything done safely.
Rep. Timm Ormsby said he believes strong voter turnout always makes decisions better.
“I think we had a great turnout,” Ormsby said. “I’ve always contended we get better decisions when more people are involved.”
Ormsby said he is “very humbled” to be leading his re-election race. Ormsby also mentioned Jackson, saying she would be proud of the young voter turnout this election.
“The one thing that she focused on was kids, was young folks, and I am so impressed with the leadership that we have gotten from young folks in our community,” Ormsby said of young voters.
Sen. Maria Cantwell, Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, and state Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig also spoke briefly.
While the local GOP party held an in-person gathering, Bishop said she feels confident holding a virtual party was the right decision.
Republicans celebrate at Davenport Grand
The local Republican Party held a closed-press event at the Davenport Grand, in the same ballroom where Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers celebrated her re-election two years ago.
The crowd received temperature checks before walking into the ballroom, where McMorris Rodgers and other local Republican candidates and elected officials heralded the early results favoring President Donald Trump. Michael Baumgartner, the country treasurer and former state senator, said the night reminded him of the feeling four years ago.
“When this election came around, I knew very well not to trust those same pollsters that had been so wrong in 2016,” Baumgartner said.
Spokane County Commissioner Josh Kerns, in remarks before results were read, told the assembled crowd it had been an unorthodox election season.
“Everything’s different. You had to change the way you campaign. Nothing’s the same,” Kerns said.
He echoed Baumgartner’s claim that it appeared the polls had again been off the mark.
McMorris Rodgers claimed a quick victory in her contests against Democrat Dave Wilson, and told the crowd after results were announced that American ingenuity would guide the country back from the challenges of the coronavirus.
“We can’t let fear mute the stories of hope,” she said, flanked by masked campaign workers and her family on stage.
She said after the event that celebrating a victory – her ninth – during the pandemic made for a different kind of evening.
“It was very different doing election night, COVID-style,” she said. “But that’s been this entire year, right? Everything’s weird, and different.”
State Rep. Jacquelin Maycumber, who was hosted the event, said it was the first time in a while she’d been out of the house and among people.
“It’s excitement, from 6 feet away,” she said.
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