Amid low voter turnout, GOP takes control

UPDATED (Nov. 10, 2014) –The latest results as of 8 a.m. Monday are updated in the post below.

(Nov. 5, 2014) — The Democratic Party’s hopes of regaining control of the Washington State Senate were shot down on Election Day as Republican incumbents won re-election — in some cases by wide margins — in the key contested races around the state.

According to the latest returns:

6th District — Sen. Michael Baumgartner (R) beat Rich Cowan (D) 57.18% to 42.82%

26th District –Sen. Jan Angel (R) beat Judy Arbogast (D) 58.71% to 41.29%

28th District — Sen. Steve O’Ban (R) beat Tami Green (D) 54.45% to 45.55%

35th District — Sen. Tim Sheldon (“D”) beat Irene Bowling (D) 54.44% to 45.56%

42nd District — Sen. Doug Ericksen (R) beat Seth Fleetwood (D) 58.73% to 41.27%

45th District — Sen. Andy Hill (R) beat Matt Isenhower (D) 52.90% to 47.10%

All of those races involved incumbents, so the Republicans didn’t gain that many seats, they simply clarified their control with what is shaping up to be a 26-23 majority.

In 2012, two Democrats — Sens. Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon — crossed party lines to hand narrow Senate control to the GOP with what they called the Majority Coalition Caucus. On Tuesday, Rep. Cyrus Habib (D-48th) easily won the race to replace the retiring Tom, but Sheldon was re-elected after narrowly surviving a tight three-way race in the primary election.

The Republicans gained a seat in the 30th District, where Sen. Tracey Eide (D) retired, as former Democrat Mark Miloscia (R) beat Shari Song (D) 55.96% to 44.04%.

Sen. Pam Roach (R-31st), who was endorsed by the Washington State Labor Council, survived a challenge by former Rep. Cathy Dahlquist (R) 53.60% to 46.40%.

Republicans also appeared to have gained ground in the State House of Representatives on Tuesday, but Democrats are almost certain to maintain control of that body. At press time, the Entire Staff of The Stand’s collective head hurt too much to figure out how solid that majority will be. Here are a few key races:

17th District — Lynda Wilson (R) leads Rep. Monica Stonier (D) 51.48% to 48.52% (lead had widened since election night)

25th District — Melanie Stambaugh (R) beat Rep. Dawn Morrell (D) 54.75% to 45.25%

26th District — Rep. Jesse Young (R) beat Nathan Schlicher (D) 53.62% to 46.38%
and Michelle Caldier (R) leads Rep. Larry Seaquist (D) 50.52% to 49.48% (lead widened)

28th District — Paul Wagemann (R) leads Christine Kilduff (D) 50.15% to 49.85% Christine Kilduff (D) now leads Paul Wagemann (R) 50.39% to 49.61%

30th District — The late Rep. Roger Freeman (D), who passed away last week, beat Jack Dovey (R) 52.89% to 47.11%. The King and Pierce county councils will jointly appoint a Democrat to replace Freeman for one year and there will be a special election next fall to finish the term.

35th District — Rep. Kathy Haigh (D) leads Dan Griffey (R) 50.15% to 49.85%  Dan Griffey (R) now leads Rep. Kathy Haigh (D) 50.56% to 49.44%

44th District — Rep. Hans Dunshee (D) beat Rob Toyer (R) 52.19% to 47.81%
and Mark Harmsworth (R) beat Mike Wilson (D) 52.97% to 47.03%

45th District — Rep. Roger Goodman (D) beat Joel Hussey (R) 54.88% to 45.12%


As expected, all of Washington’s Congressional delegation seeking re-election easily won their races.

In the battle to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings (R-4th), Dan Newhouse (R) is leading tea party candidate Clint Didier (R), 51.04% to 48.96% (lead unchanged).


Initiative 1351 to reduce K-12 class sizes, the only ballot measure endorsed by the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, is too close to call, with 49.59% “yes” and 50.41% “no” as of Thursday morning  50.49% voting “yes” and 49.51% voting “no.”


Amid widespread national reports of voter discontent and disengagement, voter turnout was abnormally low in most states that didn’t feature a contested U.S. Senate race. In Washington, which usually has higher voter participation than other states due to the convenience of voting by mail, the Secretary of State had hoped that just 60% of registered voters would return their ballots, compared to 72% who voted in the 2010 midterm election.

Based on early returns, even that may have been optimistic. If the Secretary of State’s current projections hold for ballots that remain to be counted, final voter turnout in the state will be closer to 50%.


Nationally, the news was even better for Republicans. For the first time in eight years, the GOP seized control of the U.S. Senate. But they also extended their U.S. House majority and won most of the governors’ races once thought to be up for grabs — including such controversial figures as Florida’s Rick Scott and Wisconsin’s Scott Walker.

Early political assessments are that Democrats were dealt a terrible hand in that too many vulnerable Democrats in red states faced candidates awash in campaign contributions from dark money PACs.

“To be sure, a lousy hand. But Democrats never tried to play it,” wrote the Huffington Post:

Candidates across the country shunned the president, with one famously refusing even to say whether she voted for him; they ran from the party’s signature accomplishment, national health care reform; and they panicked when the White House considered doing broad-based immigration reform by executive action. Instead, a robust get out the vote operation was supposed to save the party, which rested its hopes in shifting demographic trends and fear of GOP extremists. But when you don’t give your voters much to “get out” for, what’s left?

Meanwhile, the Republican Party reined in many of its extremists who embarrassed and harmed the party in recent elections with ill-advised comments about rape and pregnancy. According to this morning’s New York Times:

Republicans’ impressive showing Tuesday night… was the result of methodical plotting, careful candidate vetting and abundant preparation to ensure that the party’s candidates would avoid repeating the same devastating mistakes that cost them dearly in 2010 and 2012.

Little was left to chance: Republican operatives sent fake campaign trackers — interns and staff members brandishing video cameras to record every utterance and move — to trail their own candidates. In media training sessions, candidates were forced to sit through a reel of the most self-destructive moments of 2012, when Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock’s comments on rape and pregnancy helped sink the party.

Look for more election news and analysis at The Stand on Thursday morning.

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