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Six results from election night in Washington: Patty Murray cruises, Joe Kent bets on late surge


SEATTLE — Hundreds of thousands of votes remain to be counted in Washington, D.C., where workers process ballots and mail-in ballots arrive at polling centers.

But with more than half the votes, we can say some things with some certainty. Sen. Patty Murray’s perceived vulnerability has been exaggerated. Washington’s congressional delegation can either get a Democrat, or get a Republican, or break even. And Democrats will almost certainly continue to control both branches of the state legislature, potentially even widening their margin.

Patty Murray is running for her sixth term

Sitting with supporters at a campaign event at an Indian grocery store on the East Side last week, Murray sighed.

“Getting through this election is a challenge,” she said over tea and samosas. She sounded confident but tired.

The airwaves were flooded with attack ads, with more money spent on them than had ever been spent on a congressional election in Washington. A number of GOP-sponsored or affiliated polls have put Murray ahead of GOP challenger Tiffany Smiley in the low single digits. State and national Republicans were dismayed at the prospect of unseating the Senate’s third-largest Democrat.

But on election night, Murray dominated. She won by a huge margin in the Puget Sound region, winning Smiley’s support east of the Cascades. The Associated Press called the race for Murray about an hour after voting closed at 8 p.m.

Smiley wrapped up her campaign on a statewide bus tour, visiting 28 of the state’s 39 counties. Murray campaigned, not exclusively, but mostly, in vote-rich King, Pierce and Snohomish counties.

She pushed for her abortion rights and expanded access to affordable health care, and after the January 6 terrorist attacks, she saw Republicans as a threat to democracy. Smiley’s attacks, primarily against crime and inflation, did not sway enough voters.

The results leave Murray, a D.C. power broker after 30 years in the Senate, poised to wield even more influence. She will remain the third-ranking Democrat. She will be the fourth-ranking member of any party. And if Democrats retain control of the Senate, she will likely chair the powerful Appropriations Committee, which will be able to funnel big federal dollars to Washington.

Joe Kent stretches but is not out

Washington’s 3rd Congressional District could be a surprise for Democrats if Marie Glusenkamp Perez’s lead over Trump-backed candidate Joe Kent holds.

But it is very big, if you consider how many votes are left to be counted.

That the race is even close is a testament to Kent’s unrelenting Trumpist rhetoric and extremist ties, which have led some Republicans to side with Glusenkamp in support of Perez.

Kent ran as a full-fledged MAGA Republican, ousting Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler in the primary and pledging to join the far-right GOP caucus, including such figures as Reps. Marjorie Taylor Green of Georgia, Matt Gaetz of Florida, and Paul Gosar of Arizona.

He called his primary victory proof that the 3rd District was “not just Republican, not just conservative,” but “deep red MAGA country.”

This is not true. The 3rd District certainly leans Republican, but it’s a far cry from the red-heavy Trump districts that sent Green and Gosar to Congress.

In the 3rd district, Trump won 51% of the vote in 2020. In Greene County, Georgia, Trump won 68%. In Gates County, Florida, Trump won 65%. And in Gosar County, Arizona, Trump won 62%. All three incumbents were easily re-elected on Tuesday.

Kent may well join them in Congress. He trails Glusenkamp Perez by 11,123 votes. In the August primary, he benefited from a late surge of Republicans who voted on Election Day, edging out Herrera Beutler, who led him on Election Night.

“The race is far from over,” Kent tweeted late Tuesday, saying there were 130,000 votes left to count. “Keep the powder dry and make sure your ballot is accepted.”

Glusenkamp Perez did not declare victory, acknowledging that the race would be decided in a later vote count. “It will take a few days to know the outcome, but we already know: democracy and working families are always worth fighting for,” she tweeted.

Democrats hope to expand their majority in the legislature

Democrats took full control of the legislature in 2017 and have only increased their lead since then. They used the power to pass many longstanding priorities, including a capital gains tax, paid family leave, carbon caps and clean fuel legislation, and police reform.

Republicans went to the polls on Tuesday eager and hoping to capitalize on what they saw as a Democratic overreach. They thought they could, if not take back the House or Senate, at least reduce the Democratic Party’s lead, making an ambitious progressive agenda much more difficult.

Many votes remain to be counted, but it looks like the opposite may happen.

Democrats led in most key legislative races Tuesday night and could be in a position to extend their commanding majority. Democrats currently hold a 28-21 majority in the Senate and a 57-41 lead in the House of Representatives.

If Tuesday night’s results stand, Democrats will pick up one seat in the Senate and three seats in the House of Representatives, a party spokesman said.

The state’s most expensive legislative race was the 26th District, which includes Bremerton, Port Orchard and Gig Harbor. Incumbent Democratic Senator Emily Randall edged out Republican challenger Jesse Young with about 53% of the vote in their Senate race.

In the three closely watched races in Whatcom County — two House seats and one Senate seat — Democrats led all three by 2 to 4 percentage points.

Democrats have taken the lead in the state Senate race in Kent County, while Republicans continue to struggle even to hold onto their lead in King County.

The Secretary of State is tense

The news wasn’t the best for Republicans in the only state office they’ve been able to hold in recent years. No GOP candidate advanced in the general election in the secretary of state race, where incumbent Democrat Steve Hobbs edged out Julie Anderson, the nonpartisan Pierce County auditor.

The state GOP has launched a signature campaign for state Rep. Brad Clippert, a Kennewick Republican who wants to ban mail-in voting and who has falsely claimed widespread fraud in the 2020 election.

Not only does Clippert have no chance of winning, with only 3.1% of the vote on election night, but his candidacy could swing the seat to Democrats, taking away votes that might have gone to Anderson.

The legislature loses those who deny the election

Speaking of Clippert, he is one of three Republican lawmakers who have recused themselves from the race to no longer serve in Olympia.

Clippert, along with state Reps. Vicki Craft, R-Vancouver, and Robert Sutherland, R-Granite Falls, traveled to South Dakota last year to attend an election conspiracy conference organized by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell.

Next year, it looks like they will be out of the legislature. Clippert and Kraft gave up their seats in the legislature to run unsuccessfully for congressional seats.

Sutherland, who urged followers to “prepare for war” after Trump lost in 2020 and said it would be “fair” if Trump used the military to stay in power, appeared set to lose heavily to Republican challenger Sam Lowe .

On Tuesday, Lowe, a member of the Snohomish County Council, won 55% of the vote to Sutherland’s 41%.

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