Officials in Washington have counted nearly 2.3 million ballots from the August 2020 primary so far, and they have an estimated 172,613 left to go in an election that saw turnout reach 54% statewide and 55% in King County. Those numbers are high for a primary, but emotionally low given that about 45% of registered voters didn't cast a ballot.
Anyhow, things haven't changed toooooo much since election night, though a couple races have firmed up, and a Tacoma-area Dem-on-Dem race suddenly got pretty close over the weekend. Let's take a look:
Two-term incumbent Governor Jay Inslee has dropped a point from around 52% on election night to 50.8%, though that number represents a slight increase from his vote share over the weekend, as more King County ballots came in and buoyed him today. That said, he could be in danger of dipping below 50% in the coming days, which is...worth a post later.
With 17% of the votes, Loren Culp, a small-town police chief who promised not to enforce voter-approved gun safety laws and who was “accused in a lawsuit of botching a child sexual-abuse investigation and intimidating the victim with threats of a false-claims charge," according to the Seattle Times, will run against Inslee. Republican establishment politicians at times tried to knight Dr. Raul Garcia and Joshua Freed as their dude, but they have only pulled in 5.2% and 8.8% of the vote, respectively. Their efforts couldn’t match Culp’s relatively large and growing social media presence and subsequent yard sign dominance, which is also worth a post later.
Meanwhile, incumbent Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman maintains her lead over Democratic challenger Rep. Gael Tarleton. Tarleton is down to 43.6%, with Wyman at 50.8%.
Absent a credible challenger at the top of the ticket, Republicans see the Superintendent of Public Schools office, currently held by Chris Reykdal, as a possible executive-level pick-up opportunity for them. Aside from stuffing as many students as possible into schools during a pandemic, their only semi-coherent education agenda involves making this race all about the age-appropriate, comprehensive sex health education bill that lawmakers passed last session.
At this point, it’s almost certain Reykdal, who currently holds 40.4% of the vote, will square off against Maia Espinoza. With conservative candidates holding over 50% of the vote share, Reykdal could be in trouble.
Adding to his troubles, the State Supreme Court handed Espinoza a victory late last week when they overturned a Thurston County Superior Court decision instructing her to remove an inaccurate sentence from her statement in the voters pamphlet. Espinoza claimed Reykdal "ignored parents and educators by championing a policy that teaches sexual positions to 4th graders,” according to the Seattle Times, which he did not.
As the Times explains, Espinoza's statement "refers to supplemental reading recommended in a handout from one of a few curricula that districts could adopt to pass to satisfy that law." Because Espinoza didn't act with "actual malice," Reykdal lost his defamation suit against her, and now the November voters pamphlet will include a sentence a Thurston county judge found "false." So, heads up.
The big news in the 10th Congressional District is former State Rep. Kristine Reeves’s Friday-night exit. On Friday, right when everyone stopped thinking about the news and started thinking about dining indoors during a respiratory virus outbreak, Reeves bowed out, saying in a press release her campaign "showed that an Afro-Latina woman and working mom can raise the money needed to be competitive." With that, the top two contenders in this race to replace former U.S. House Rep Denny Heck will be State Rep. Beth Doglio, who currently holds 14.5% of the vote, and Seattle Chamber of Commerce CEO Marilyn Strickland, who is sitting at 21%.
Over in the 8th Congressional District (ah, the 8th) returning champ Congresswoman Kim Schrier is down six points to the combined conservative vote share. She'll face Jesse Jensen, last seen at a pro-cop rally in Seattle, you know, because cutting SPD’s horsey patrol tremendously impacts the people of the 8th. Though Schrier is currently at 43.3%, she might catch another ride on an anti-Trump blue wave in November.
Despite much more support from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee this year, 3rd Congressional District Democratic challenger Carolyn Long continues running far behind incumbent Republican Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler with only 39.7% of the vote. Beutler has 56.3%.
Over the weekend we saw a big shift toward progressive challenger Sharlett Mena in Tacoma’s 29th Legislative District, where either Mena or twenty-year Democratic incumbent Steve Kirby will face off against Republican Terry Harder. Kirby was up over six points on election night, and now he’s only up less than a point, leading by 239 votes. There are about 2,000 votes left to count in Pierce County, and if Mena takes a major portion of these later returns again, then she might just topple the man who called her a “carpetbagger” in a mailer and then later apologized after learning about the term’s extremely racist history for the first time in his long life in politics.
Speaking of Tacoma, the last batch of votes swung toward Democratic challenger and Tacoma Urban League CEO T’wina Nobles, who hopes to unseat Republican State Sen. Steve O’Ban. She’s now leading him with 193 votes, whereas last week she was only up 23.
As for the Seattle races, with about 67,000 votes left to count in King County, former House Speaker Rep. Frank Chopp’s lead is sliding a little. He now holds 50.2% of the vote, with Seattle Peoples Party candidate Sherae Lascelles now nearing 31%. As Goldy predicted on Twitter, Chopp could dip below 50% by the time this is all over, which means this one could be close come November. Over in the Ballard-area's open seat, Liz Berry is looking stronger with a nice 50.69% of the vote. Assistant attorney general Sarah Reyneveld dipped a little to 41.9%. In South Seattle, challenger Dem David Hackney is running over 10 points ahead of 18-year incumbent Dem Zack Hudgins, who hadn't faced a serious Democratic primary challenger since 2012.
In the 5th Legislative District’s State Senate race, featuring incumbent Dem Mark Mullet and challenger Dem Ingrid Anderson, Anderson now leads the incumbent by 324 votes. This election sets up a potential big money battle between union PACs and whoever supports Mullet.
Up in Whatcom, Sharon Shewmake continues to make up a little in the latest ballot drop, though she’s still behind a point to Jennifer Sefzik, 49.4 to 50.6%