As counties are an arm of the state, the legislative branch, is very important to WSAC’s and the legislature’s relationship. This post is the first of three blog post series to highlight what this mid-term election means for counties. The second post will look at initiatives and third will look at the changes within the WSAC membership. 


The 2018 midterm elections have come and gone with several tight races and a few yet to be finalized. The elections results were certified on Friday, November 30th. Voter turnout was at a near record high rate of 71.83% statewide, with some counties reporting over 80% turnout.  The predicted blue wave didn’t quite materialize as strongly as expected, with the blue parts of the state and country getting bluer and the red getting redder.

At the federal level, the open 8th District congressional race has democrat Kim Schrier besting Republican Dino Rossi with almost 53% of the vote. All the incumbents held on to their seats, sending three Republicans and seven Democrats to Congress to represent Washington State.

At the state level, there was much more uncertainty when it came to the races, several with close calls and three still dragged out by hand recounts. However, in the end, Democrat majorities in both the House and Senate increased to retain a Democratic-controlled trifecta, in that the House, the Senate and the Governorship are once again, all under one-party control.

In the House, where Democrats currently hold a two-seat majority, the pick-up could be as many as seven seats or more. Both seats in the 5th District will turn blue, with Bill Ramos (D) taking the open seat formerly held by a Republican and Lisa Callan (D) beating incumbent Paul Graves (R) by 5 points.

For the 6th District seat vacated by Rep. Jeff Holy (R) for his successful Senate run, Republican Jenny Graham won by .98%, outside the one half of one percent margin required for a mandatory recount. In the 10thDistrict, Incumbent Dave Hayes (R) was defeated by challenger Dave Paul (D) in the 10th, also by less than 1%.

In the 17th, incumbent Vicki Craft (R) is held on with a slight lead over her challenger with 50.73% of the vote. Likewise, in the 19th legislative district, incumbent Jim Walsh (R) is defended his seat with just 50.43% of the vote over Erin Frasier (D). 28th District incumbent Dick Muri lost to Democrat challenger Mari Leavitt.

Hand recounts are required when the vote is less than one quarter of one percent and less than 1,000 votes apart.  And, two of the races in the 42nd District are headed there Rep. Luanne Van Werven (R) leads her D challenger by only 80 votes or .12%, while the Senate seat is a squeaker with incumbent Doug Ericksen (R) up by 46 votes or .09% to Pinky Vargas (D).  Rep. Vincent Buys lost to his challenger, Sharon Shoemaker (D), by 1.36%.

In the 44th, challenger Jared Mead (D) has beaten incumbent Mark Harmsworth (R) over 5 percent. And, in the 47th incumbent Rep. Mark Hargrove (R) has lost to D challenger Debra Entenman by over 7%.

In the Senate, where Democrats hold a one-vote majority, it appears the Ds will pick up at least two seats with one more headed to a recount on December 6. In the 26th District seat vacated by Sen. Jan Angel (R), a mandatory hand recount is required because Marty McClendon (R) trails Emily Randall (D) by 104 votes and .14% of the vote. In the 30th, incumbent Mark Miloscia (R) has lost to challenger Claire Wilson (D).

Challenger Jesse Solomon (D) will take the seat of incumbent Maralyn Chase, also a Democrat, in the 32nd Legislative District. And, in the 47th district, incumbent Joe Fain (R) was defeated by to challenger Mona Das (D).

With the retirement of Senate Majority Leader Sharon Nelson, the Senate Democrats have chosen Andy Billig (D) from Spokane to be the new leader with the rest of the high ranking leadership positions remaining mostly the same.


Mellani McAleenan

Mellani joined WSAC as the Director of Government Relations and General Counsel. Mellani has worked in government relations since 2000, most recently as Director of Government Affairs for the Dental Association. Mellani has also represented the state judicial branch of government as the primary legislative advocate for the Board for Judicial Administration, Administrative Office of the Courts, and Supreme Court. Mellani earned her Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from Seattle University and her BS in Human Services from Wayland Baptist University.

Latest posts by Mellani McAleenan (see all)