by Mike Andrew -
SGN Staff Writer
Although national election results were grim, voters in Washington state bucked the trend, passing landmark ballot initiatives and electing progressive candidates.
I-1433, which will raise the state minimum wage to $13.50 by 2020 and establish paid sick and safe days, is passing by more than 300,000 votes, rolling up an almost 3-to-1 margin in King County.
I-1491, to prevent people judged mentally ill from acquiring guns, is passing by 900,000 votes, again with a huge margin - more than 4 to 1 - in King County.
I-1501, protecting seniors and their caregivers from identity theft and other invasions of privacy, is also passing by 900,000 votes.
I-735 is passing by a 2-to-1 margin statewide and almost 3-to-1 in King County. The measure instructs the state's congressional delegation to offer a constitutional amendment stating that corporate political donations are not protected by the First Amendment. It was intended to undo the US Supreme Court decision in Citizens United.
I-732, the carbon tax initiative that was criticized by many environmental, labor, and community groups, is some 25,000 votes ahead in King County but is losing by 400,000 votes statewide.
Western Washington voters carried the state and its 12 electoral votes for Clinton, giving her a 400,000-vote margin of victory. King County, accounted for some 340,000 of those votes, with Clinton winning here by an almost 4-to-1 margin.
Veteran US Sen. Patty Murray cruised to the easiest victory of her career, leading former state GOP boss Chris Vance by nearly 500,000 votes. Murray leads by 330,000 votes in King County, an almost 3-to-1 margin.
In the 7th Congressional District, where longtime Rep. Jim McDermott is retiring, state Sen. and human rights activist Pramila Jayapal won a decisive victory over state Rep. Brady Walkinshaw. Jayapal is leading by more than 34,000 votes, or 13.5 percentage points.
During the campaign, Jayapal emphasized her long record of activism and her willingness to stand up to the Republican congressional leadership, while Walkinshaw touted his ability to get along with his Republican colleagues in the state legislature.
In the state's other congressional districts, all the incumbents won re-election, leaving the balance of forces at six Democrats to four Republicans. Openly Gay state Rep. Jim Moeller lost his bid to unseat Republican incumbent Jaime Herrera Beutler in the 3rd District.
Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee easily won re-election against former Seattle Port Commissioner Bill Bryant. Inslee is now some 250,000 votes ahead of Bryant, with a better than 2-to-1 lead in King County.
Current state Sen. Cyrus Habib (D-48) is on track to win the lieutenant governor spot being vacated by retiring incumbent Brad Owen. Habib will be the state's first Iranian-American statewide official.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson is heading for re-election by a better than 2-to-1 margin statewide, and more than 4-to-1 in King County.
Lesbian Tina Podlodowski, a former Seattle City Councilmember, is losing her bid to unseat Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman, in spite of accusations of mismanagement that have dogged Wyman's administration. Podlodowski leads by some 130,000 votes in King County, her home base, but trails statewide by 170,000.
For Lands Commissioner, Democrat and environmental activist Hillary Franz is well ahead of Republican and timber industry friend Steve McLaughlin. Franz leads by more than 200,000 votes.
In a very tight race, current state Rep. Chris Reykdal (D-22) is leading Erin Jones for Superintendent of Public Instruction. Reykdal leads by about 36,000 votes, or two percentage points. Jones reportedly is affiliated with anti-LGBT religious groups and had made equivocal statements about her commitment to protect Transgender students in public schools.
All three state Supreme Court justices up for re-election - Chief Justice Barbara Madsen, Mary Yu, and Charlie Wiggins - survived challenges funded by charter schools backers and anti-tax activists and will serve for another six-year term.
In Capitol Hill's 43rd Legislative District, Lesbian housing activist Nicole Macri is easily beating Gay attorney Daniel Shih for the House seat Brady Walkinshaw gave up to run for Congress. Macri is currently ahead by 16,000 votes, or 30 percentage points.
The other 43rd District rep, Speaker Frank Chopp, is unopposed, and 43rd District Sen. Jamie Pedersen does not have to run this year. He will be up for re-election in 2018.
Democrats managed to capture one Republican state Senate seat - the 41st District seat now held by Steve Litzow. Democrat Lisa Wellman leads Litzow by about 4,000 votes or eight percentage points.
While that is an improvement, it is not enough to flip the Senate back to Democratic control, and it means that the status quo of a politically divided state legislature will continue for two more years.
Observers predict another contentious legislative session in 2017, as lawmakers struggle to comply with a court order to fully fund public schools.
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