Democrats leading in WA's most competitive Legislative races

Democrats held a lead in three of Washington's closely contested state Senate races after the first ballot drop.

Dome of the capitol building

Washington state's capital building is seen in Olympia, Washington on Thursday, June 14, 2017. (Matt M. McKnight/Cascade Public Media)

Democrats in Tuesday night's initial election results led in a trio of competitive Washington state Senate races and a handful of other House races, putting the party on track to potentially gain seats in both chambers of the Legislature. 

In the 26th Legislative District, state Sen. Emily Randall, D-Bremerton, led Rep. Jesse Young, R-Gig Harbor, in the initial results, 52.5% to 47.5%. Randall has been considered the most vulnerable incumbent Democratic senator in a competitive district that includes parts of Kitsap and Pierce counties.

In a contest for the open Senate seat in southeast King County’s 47th District, Democrat and former lawmaker Claudia Kauffman led Republican William Boyce, 53.5% to 46.4%.

And in Whatcom County’s 42nd District, Sen. Simon Sefzik, R-Ferndale, trailed Democratic challenger Rep. Sharon Shewmake, D-Bellingham, 48.6% to 51.3%. Sefzik was appointed earlier this year to fill the seat after longtime Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, died after contracting COVID-19 during a trip abroad.

More votes will be counted in the coming days, and the outcomes could change. Right now, Democrats hold sizable majorities in the Legislature: 57-41 in the House and 28-21 in the Senate.

Democrats were leading in two of the most closely watched House races in the 10th District, which includes Island County as well as pieces of Snohomish and Skagit counties. 

In the initial results, Rep. Dave Paul, D-Oak Harbor, led GOP challenger Karen Lesetmoe, 54% to 46%. In his previous two elections, Paul won in the district each time with fewer than 750 votes.

Meanwhile, Rep. Greg Gilday, R-Camano Island, trailed Democratic challenger Clyde Shavers, 47% to 53%. Shavers – a U.S. Navy veteran – has come under fire for exaggerating his military and professional experience on the campaign trail. The issue burbled to the surface last week after the candidate’s father, Brett Shavers, penned a letter stating that his son had never served aboard a nuclear submarine and isn’t yet an attorney.

Democratic House candidates Tuesday night were leading in at least two other Republican-held House races – in the 26th and 18th legislative districts.

The August top-two primary results — which act as a broad gauge for what might happen in November — showed no major shifts toward Democrats or Republicans. Very few of Washington’s 49 legislative districts are considered truly competitive swing districts.

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