Dear NFIB/Washington Member,
Contrary to the bluster and bombast of last week’s national election results, state-level races went largely as expected.
The Republican-led Majority Coalition Caucus (MCC) will retain control of the state senate, thanks in large part to the resounding election night victory of our own Rep. Lynda Wilson. She now leads former Rep. Tim Probst 55.2% to 44.8% in the 17th Legislative District senate race. Four years ago, that same seat was the closest senate contest in the state, which Probst lost by just 78 votes. Lynda was a member of our state Leadership Council until her election to the state House in 2014. Her husband, Tracy, continues to serve on our Leadership Council.
This year, the 5th Legislative District is home to the state’s tightest senate race. NFIB member Sen. Mark Mullet leads challenger Rep. Chad Magendanz by 907 votes, 50.7% to 49.3%, in the latest tally. Republicans continue to hold out hope of a Magendanz upset, to maintain their 26-23 senate majority, which shrunk to 25-24 with the defeat of Sen. Steve Litzow. Mullet has led in his race since election night, but the margin has narrowed. NFIB/Washington’s SAFE Trust committee endorsed Magendanz over Mullet based on our legislative voting records for 2013-14 and 2015-16.
NFIB/Washington SAFE Trust, our political action arm, endorsed 13 senate candidates, including six NFIB members. Eleven of those endorsed candidates (including those six NFIB members) won; one lost; one is still undecided. That is an 84.6% success rate for our endorsed senate candidates.
In the state House of Representatives, Democrats are still in jeopardy of losing their outright majority despite an apparent gain of two seats in the 30th Legislative District. Challenger Michael Pellicciotti, a Democrat, easily defeated Republican Rep. Linda Kochmar in both the primary and general elections in that district’s Position 1 race. Republican Rep. Teri Hickel trails Democrat challenger Kristine Reeves by 836 votes, 49.04% to 50.96%, for Position 2. That race, along with a nail-biter in the 19thLegislative District will determine whether Speaker Frank Chopp maintains his gavel, or if control of the House will be shared due to a 49-49 split.
In the contest for the open 19th district seat, Republican Jim Walsh has overtaken Democrat Teresa Purcell in the latest count. Walsh now leads by 76 votes, 50.07% to 49.93%. Thanks to an easy Republican pick up in the 31st Legislative District, where former Rep. Phil Fortunato took nearly 58% of the vote, a Walsh victory would tie the House – but only if Hickel can somehow fend off Reeves. While a tie may still be possible, it appears more likely the House will remain in Democrat hands, 50-48.
NFIB/Washington SAFE Trust, our political action arm, endorsed 49 candidates, including 12 NFIB members. Forty-six of those endorsed candidates (including 11 of 12 NFIB members, 91.7%) won; three lost. That is a 93.9% success rate for our endorsed House candidates.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment of the evening was voter approval of I-1433, increasing the state minimum wage and mandating paid leave. While not unexpected, early returns gave a glimmer of hope that reason had prevailed, only to be extinguished as soon as King County reported its results. The initiative passed 58%-42%. NFIB/Washington and other business groups are exploring the possibility for a legal challenge, but given the political bent of our state’s courts, that would be longshot. NFIB/Washington opposed I-1433.
Voters also approved the duplicitous I-1501, which, despite its claims of protecting seniors and other vulnerable individuals from fraud, is nothing more than a Big Labor power play to silence the Freedom Foundation and deny SEIU members notice of their rights under Harris v. Quinn. I suspect the Freedom Foundation will mount a successful legal challenge, even if it takes the US Supreme Court to overturn this measure. NFIB/Washington opposed I-1501.
On the positive side, I-732 and I-1464 were both defeated. NFIB/Washington opposed both measures.
I-732 sought to enact the nation’s first carbon tax. Divisions in the environmental community, along with $1.4 million in industry funding, tanked the effort. However, environmental groups have continued to work on an alternative initiative they will take either to the Legislature or directly to the people next year. This fight is far from over.
As for I-1464, its defeat was anticipated, but not a foregone conclusion. Backers spent more than $4 million only to lose 46.6% to 53.4%. Polls on the measure had shown it trailing leading up to the election. This initiative would have eliminated the non-resident sales tax credit businesses in border communities rely on to entice Oregon shoppers to buy in our state. That additional tax revenue would have then been used to fund “democracy vouchers” voters could contribute to political candidates, and for beefed-up enforcement efforts by the state’s campaign watchdog, the Public Disclosure Commission. The legislature would be wise to address some of the more reasonable components of that initiative, such as closing “… the revolving door between government officials and lobbying.”
NFIB/Washington SAFE Trust’s endorsed candidate for governor, Bill Bryant, and state supreme court, David DeWolf and Greg Zempel, were all defeated. While we are saddened by these losses, they were not unexpected.
Interestingly, Republicans picked up the state Treasurer’s office for the first time since 1957. Duane Davidson, the winner in that race, reached out to NFIB staff during the campaign. Although this is not an office we are authorized to endorse, we look forward to working with the Treasurer-elect next year.