Update at 4:50 p.m. Friday: State Rep. Brady Walkinshaw has won a spot in a November election race for the U.S. Congress, versus state Sen. Pramila Jayapal. New vote counts on Friday solidified Walkinshaw’s hold on second place in the just-completed primary election, and his main rival, King County Councilmember Joe McDermott, conceded.
State Rep. Brady Walkinshaw’s slim lead over King County Councilmember Joe McDermott grew substantially Thursday after new vote counts in their fight for a spot in a November congressional election.
In King County, Walkinshaw now leads by more than 1,200 votes and nearly 1 percentage point. Though McDermott’s still ahead in Snohomish County by a narrow, 17-vote margin, Walkinshaw picked up more votes there than McDermott in the new counting.
Walkinshaw and McDermott, both Democrats, are in a do-or-die battle for one of two spots in the 7th Congressional District. Another Democrat, state Sen. Pramila Jayapal, has already assured herself a position on the November ballot, easily finishing first in the nine-candidate field.
The 7th Congressional district is located in the western portions of King and Snohomish counties, including much of Seattle. More than 90 percent of the votes have come from King County, where most of the district’s population is. Longtime U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott, who is no relation to Joe McDermott, decided earlier this year not to seek re-election, creating an open contest in the district for the first time in a generation.
Although McDermott held a small lead after the initial vote counting Tuesday, Walkinshaw has gained in ballots counted both Wednesday and Thursday.
Despite the encouraging news from two days of late ballot counting, Walkinshaw said, “It’s still a very small margin.”
Along with the rest of his campaign team, Walkinshaw is waiting for voters whose ballots haven’t arrived or been counted yet. He believes there are more than 30,000 still to be counted, with roughly 25,000 in King County and less than 5,000 in Snohomish County. His campaign has said since Election Night that it figured Walkinshaw was running strongly with young voters.
“Typically, late voters tend to be younger ... tend to often be more progressive,” he said. “Climate and environmental issues are part and parcel with our candidacy. I’m running on a very very strong record of progressive accomplishments.”
“So we’ll see how the trends continue through the rest of the ballot count.”
Grant Lahmann, McDermott’s campaign manager, said they’re waiting to see what numbers come in from the candidates' stomping grounds, Legislative District 34, where he served as a member of the Washington State Senate. The same can be said of District 43, where Walkinshaw was a member of the Washington House of Representatives.
“We’re moving forward,” Lahmann said.
Both campaigns indicated that they expect it to take until at least Monday for it to be clear who has won. And the state has a history of races going down to the final day of vote counting. The two counties won’t certify their counts until Aug. 16.