ELECTION UPDATES: Patty Murray wins, Rick Larsen leads, Dems still control legislature
 

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posted Friday, November 5, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 45

ELECTION UPDATES: Patty Murray wins, Rick Larsen leads, Dems still control legislature
by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Washington voters seem to be bucking the national trend and retaining most Democratic incumbents.

'The enthusiasm gap evaporated in Washington state,' said Dwight Pelz, chairman of the Washington State Democratic Party. 'Democrats got energized in the waning days of the election and got out to vote.'

As SGN goes to press, Sen. Patty Murray has won a fourth term, Rep. Rick Larsen leads his Republican challenger, and the Democrats seem likely to retain control of the state legislature.

Murray rode an unusually high turnout in King County to a hard fought victory over Republican challenger Dino Rossi.

Rossi called Murray to concede Thursday evening.

'We are winning tonight,' Murray told cheering supporters at her election night party, 'and we are going to win even bigger tomorrow. We are going to win this race.'

At press time, Murray had a lead of over 51,600 votes - somewhat more than three percent of the total.

Because of the state's mail-in ballot rules, valid ballots are still being received, and state officials caution that a final count may not be available for another week.

According to King County election officials, 71% of eligible voters returned their ballots, topping the predicted 68%.

Officials added that they expect to have counted somewhat less than three-quarters of the ballots by Friday, November 5.

Murray appears to have won upwards of 67% of all the King County votes.

In several other counties, she increased her share of the vote as ballot counting continued - even in counties being carried by Rossi - indicating that the Democrats' last-minute get-out-the-vote push succeeded.

The high turnout helped Murray overcome millions of dollars of outside money poured into the race to help Rossi.

She was reportedly one of Karl Rove's prime targets in this election cycle. One of the other Rove targets - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) - also pulled out a victory. The third, Alexi Giannoulias of Illinois, was defeated.

In the 2nd Congressional District north of Seattle, incumbent Democrat Rick Larsen holds on to a slim - but slowing increasing - 648-vote lead over right-wing Republican challenger John Koster.

Larsen had trailed Koster most of election night.

'It's still too close to call, but we certainly like the way the numbers are trending,' said Brooke Davis, Larsen's political director.

Larsen beat Koster by almost 12,000 votes in their first face-off in 2000.

In the 3rd Congressional District, Tea Party Republican Jaime Herrera leads Democrat Denny Heck in the race to replace retiring Democrat Brian Baird.

In other Congressional races, all the incumbents are winning.

Seattle Democrat Jim McDermott is coasting to an easy victory with more than 82% of the vote.

In state legislative races, Democrats may lose some seats in suburban swing districts but will probably keep their majorities in both houses of the legislature.

Democrats have a pre-election majority of 63-35 in the House and 32-17 in the Senate.

Since senators are elected to four-year terms, 25 senate seats are up for grabs this year.

As of Thursday evening, Democrats will likely win 12 races and Republicans 10, with three more incumbent Democrats leading their opponents by very narrow margins.

Sen. Ed Murray (D-43), chair of the Senate Democratic Caucus, said Democrats could lose three or four Senate seats. Nevertheless, Murray said he was encouraged that Democrats gained votes on Wednesday as counting continued in some close races.

'It's a good trend,' he said. 'It continues to appear that we're bucking the national trend.'

Even in a worst-case scenario, the new Senate will still be controlled by Democrats 28-21.

On the House side, all 98 seats are up for election.

Democrats lead in 52 races and Republicans in 43, with three too close to call. In all three, incumbent Democrats are running only slightly ahead of Republican challengers.

All openly Gay legislators are heading toward reelection, except for Joe McDermott, who is leaving the state Senate for a seat on the King County Council.

Sen. Ed Murray (D-43) and Reps. Jamie Pedersen (D-43) and Dave Upthegrove (D-33) were unopposed.

Rep. Marko Liias (D-21) is winning a tough campaign against Tea Party Republican Elizabeth Scott, and Rep. Jim Moeller (D-49) is also leading conservative nursing-home operator Craig Riley.

All are Democrats.

They will now be joined in the legislature by fellow Democrat Laurie Jinkins, who is winning her race in Pierce County's 27th District.

Jinkins would be the legislature's first open Lesbian member.

In another race of interest to SGN readers, Democratic incumbent Dawn Morrell (D-25) holds a razor-thin 100-vote lead over Republican Hans Zeiger. As with other Democratic candidates, her lead is increasing as the count continues.

Zeiger became notorious this past summer, when HorsesAss blog revealed that he was the author of a number of anti-Gay and anti-choice blog posts.

In the one contested Supreme Court race, anti-Gay incumbent Richard Sanders is a little over 14,000 votes ahead of challenger Charlie Wiggins, but Wiggins is closing the gap as King County ballots are counted.

Open Lesbian Donna Tucker is winning her race for District Court Judge in northeast King County.



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