With Democrats being trounced across the country, incumbents like Bonnie Mager (county commissioner) and Patty Murray (U.S. senator) could at least look on the bright side – they’re still in the running this week. But that could change in coming days as more votes are tallied.
With thousands of ballots still in the mail, some close elections remain to be decided.
Elections officials estimate that nearly 175,000 ballots will be counted in Spokane County by the time the election is certified on Nov. 23. By Tuesday at 11 p.m., over 75,000 ballots had been already recorded.
Mager, who represents the 3rd District on the Board of County Commissioners, trailed Republican challenger and former Spokane City Councilman Al French by just over 1,000 votes as of Tuesday night. Mager had 35,216 votes, just over 49 percent, to French’s 36,288.
Another tight county race has turned out to be the one for treasurer. Rob Chase – a write-in candidate who qualified with a strong showing in the primary election – led incumbent D.E. “Skip” Chilberg on Tuesday by 35,666 to 34,924.
Those returns mirror early results for Murray, who is facing an expectedly strong challenge from Republican Dino Rossi for the state Senate seat. While Rossi crushed Murray with nearly 56-percent of the vote in early local returns, the 18-year senator was holding her own with nearly 51 percent across the state as of Wednesday – but there were still over 500,000 ballots that were left to be counted.
Back in Spokane County, other elections looked to be pretty much decided on Tuesday night. Incumbent Republican Steve Tucker appears to be headed for another term with 37,627 votes to Democratic challenger Frank Malone’s 33,237. And Republican Vicki Horton looks to be a virtual lock to upset incumbent, and fellow GOP candidate, Ralph Baker for county assessor. Horton went to bed Tuesday night knowing she had nearly 56 percent of the vote in her favor.
In the county auditor race, it appears Democrat Vicky Dalton will keep her job, as challenger Leonard Christian only had 43 percent of the electorate in his camp on Tuesday. Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich and Tom Fallquist, county clerk, were unchallenged – however, the sheriff’s race did record a high number of write-in votes (2,274) in early returns.
As expected, 5th District Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers cruised to an easy win over Democratic challenger Daryl Romeyn for a fourth term in Congress. In a statement shortly after 11 p.m., she said she was “humbled and excited” for a return trip to Washington, D.C.
Across the state, the Democratic control of the state Legislature wasn’t expected to change, however 4th District representatives (and republicans) Larry Crouse and Matt Shea will return to Olympia as they did not have local opponents.
Also, Spokane County voters are in lockstep with their statewide counterparts on their view on several ballot measures. Initiative 1053, which would require a two-thirds majority in the Legislature to raise taxes, received strong approval, as did I-1107, which would eliminate state taxes on candy and soda.
Voters locally and across the state did not support a pair of initiatives that would privatize liquor sales or initiatives that would authorize companies to buy private industrial insurance or create an income tax for those making more than $200,000 annually.
Also rejected was a referendum that would authorize the sale of bonds to finance energy efficiency improvements in schools (by over 61 percent locally) and a measure that would adjust how interest is calculated against the state’s debt limit.
Finally, almost overwhelmingly, voters across the state approved a constitutional change that will allow criminal suspects facing life imprisonment to be held without bail before trial. Resolution 4220 received a whopping 85-percent approval in Spokane County.
Election officials are expecting it will take until at least Saturday to process and count all the votes mailed by the Tuesday night deadline. However, they warn there could be several thousand votes that cannot be counted as they will have unreadable marks or missing/mismatched signatures.