Still count­ing but Democrats to gain seats in Leg­is­la­ture

The Olympian - - Front Page - BY LISA BAU­MANN

Democrats will pick up seats in the Leg­is­la­ture after Tues­day’s elec­tion. But the ex­act num­ber re­mains un­clear with a hand­ful of races still too close to call.

In the Se­nate, Joe Fain of Auburn, a mem­ber of Se­nate Repub­li­can Lead­er­ship run­ning for re-elec­tion un­der the cloud of a rape al­le­ga­tion he de­nies, con­ceded his race Fri­day evening in a Face­book post when the lat­est re­turns showed Demo­cratic chal­lenger Mona Das had ex­tended her lead to 548 votes.

In an­other seat Democrats are hop­ing to flip, Repub­li­can Sen. Mark Milos­cia of Fed­eral Way trailed Fri­day by more than 3,500 votes Fri­day to chal­lenger Claire Wil­son in the 30th Dis­trict.

Two other Se­nate con­tests, one for a seat in the 26th Dis­trict va­cated by Repub­li­can Sen. Jan An­gell of Port An­ge­les and one for Fern­dale Repub­li­can Sen. Doug Erick­sen’s seat, were too close to call Fri­day.

Repub­li­can Marty McClen­don was up by 222 votes over Demo­crat Emily Ran­dall, while Erick­sen led Pinky Var­gas by only 72 votes, which could mean a re­count for that race.

“We saw that we could win in dis­tricts where Hil­lary (Clin­ton) won, and we feel good if we end up with three seats,” Alex Bond, po­lit­i­cal di­rec­tor of the Wash­ing­ton Se­nate Demo­cratic Cam­paign said Fri­day. “I think that’s a strong re­sult that we’re proud of.”

While Democrats hold most statewide of­fices in Wash­ing­ton, the po­lit­i­cal split in the Leg­is­la­ture has been much nar­rower. Be­fore Tues­day’s elec­tion, Democrats had a one-seat ad­van­tage in the Se­nate and a two-seat ad­van­tage in the House.

Party of­fi­cials in the House on Fri­day were pay­ing close at­ten­tion to seven races where Democrats were look­ing to gain seats and had won or were lead­ing in re­cent re­turns.

“I think it’s be­com­ing clearer,” Kevin Carns, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor for the House Repub­li­can Or­ga­ni­za­tional Com­mit­tee said. “It looks like prob­a­bly a net loss of seven seats. When you lose some it’s tough. But given the en­vi­ron­ment, we’re pretty happy with the re­sults.”

In one of those con­tests, Demo­crat Jared M. Mead was de­clared the win­ner Fri­day by The As­so­ci­ated Press in Dis­trict 44 over Repub­li­can Rep. Mark Harmsworth of Mill Creek.

In an­other Demo­cratic seat pick-up, Demo­cratic chal­lenger De­bra En­ten­man beat Rep. Mark Har­grove of Cov­ing­ton in Dis­trict 47.

And in the 5th Dis­trict around Is­saquah, Repub­li­can Rep. Paul Graves lost to Demo­cratic chal­lenger Lisa Cal­lan. Re­sults in that dis­trict by Fri­day also showed Demo­crat Bill Ramos had beaten Repub­li­can Chad Ma­gen­danz.

Sev­eral other races re­mained too close to call Fri­day night.

Demo­cratic Rep. Joe Fitzgib­bon, head of the House Demo­cratic Cam­paign Com­mit­tee, said Fri­day that although Democrats per­formed even bet­ter in the pri­mary elec­tions, it was never likely they were go­ing to win ev­ery seat.

“It’s the first time in 12 years we’ve picked up any seats and we think we’ll have much more abil­ity to pass our agenda through the House,” Fitzgib­bon said.

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