OLYMPIA – Democrats continue to lead in some of Washington’s most competitive legislative districts to keep their majorities in the state House and Senate, although Republicans are making gains with Wednesday’s vote tally.
Republicans need to pick up four seats to gain control in the Senate and add nine seats to take over in the House. Though a flip didn’t seem likely following the August primary results, the GOP hopes to shrink the majority that Democrats hold, which could make it more difficult for progressive Democrats to pass legislation.
Early results point to Democrats picking up a few seats in each chamber, strengthening their majority, but the election is far from over as ballots continue to be counted in the coming days. Auditors were anticipating a late surge in results, which could possibly lean Republican.
State Republican Party chair Caleb Heimlich said voters should remain patient and anticipated the trends to move Republican in the coming days. Republicans also voted late in the August primary, he added.
Heimlich said any Republican currently trailing with about 47% of the vote or more could take over the lead in the coming days.
“We’ve got to count all the votes,” he told The Spokesman-Review.
Democrats felt differently Tuesday night. At an election night watch party, party chair Tina Podlodowski said they are going to continue watching a number of close races.
“It’s not the night that Republicans expected, is it?” she said.
A number of closely watched legislative races were still too close to call Wednesday.
In the expensive race for the 26th Legislative District, incumbent state Sen. Emily Randall, D-Bremerton, is leading state Rep. Jesse Young, R-Gig Harbor. Wednesday’s results show Randall has 54% while Young has 46%.
Randall had raised about $1 million while Young raised about $800,000 this election cycle.
In a 26th Legislative District House seat, Democrat Adison Richards had a slight lead with 53.4%, compared to Republican Spencer Hutchins’s 46.6%.
The 42nd Legislative District of Whatcom County brought close races for both Senate and House seats. The Senate race between Democratic Rep. Sharon Shewmake and Republican incumbent Simon Sefzik, who was appointed after Sen. Doug Ericksen died, became closely watched and drew significant funding. On Wednesday, Sefzik gained some ground, trailing Shewmake with 49.1% compared to Shewmake’s 50.8%.
In the 10th Legislative District, Democratic incumbent Rep. Dave Paul was leading in his re-election bid against Republican Karen Lesetmoe. As of Wednesday, Paul had more than 54% while Lesetmoe had more than 45%. Also in the district, Republican incumbent Greg Gilday faced Democratic challenger Clyde Shavers, who drew last-minute criticism after he reportedly misrepresented his career as an attorney and in the U.S. Navy. As of Wednesday, Shavers, with more than 52%, was leading Gilday, with more than 47%. The district includes Island County and parts of Skagit and Snohomish counties.
Democrats were closely leading in one race in the 18th Legislative District in Clark County, but closely trailing in another state House seat. Democrat John Zingale was leading Republican Stephanie McClintock by less than a percentage point. Republican Greg Cheney was leading Duncan Camacho by more than 4 percentage points.
Any of those close races could determine whether Republicans gain or lose seats this election season and how closely the majority is next session.
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