Election Report From State Director Patrick Connor

Date: November 10, 2014

As ballots continue to trickle in, small-business owners have reason for guarded optimism based on current election trends. 

The pro-small-business Senate Majority Coalition Caucus (MCC) is expected to maintain its 26-to-23 majority when the 2015 Legislature convenes in January, although there will be at least one new face in the caucus. Democrat-turned-Republican former state Rep. Mark Miloscia (R-Federal Way) won the open senate seat in the 30th Legislative District. This win offsets the loss of MCC Leader Sen. Rodney Tom (D-Medina), who did not seek re-election. Tom’s seat flipped to the Democrats as Rep. Cyrus Habib (D-Kirkland) handily defeated his Republican opponent in that race.

Billionaire Environmentalist Beaten

Due to a massive infusion of $1.25 million from California billionaire and environmental extremist Tom Steyer, four key senate races looked to be in play in the weeks leading up to the election. Steyer and his proxies targeted MCC members Sens. Steve O’Ban (R-Pierce County), Tim Sheldon (D-Potlatch), Doug Ericksen (R-Ferndale), and Andy Hill (R-Redmond). NFIB/Washington’s SAFE Trust committee launched two independent expenditures in response.

As we’ve previously reported, Washington SAFE Trust mailed roughly 33,000 postcards supporting Sheldon’s re-election, and more than 34,000 postcards opposing Rep. Tami Green (D-Lakewood), who attempted to unseat O’Ban.

Despite Steyer’s millions, all four won re-election. In fact, we are very pleased that all 10 NFIB/Washington SAFE Trust endorsed incumbent state senators were re-elected. They will be joined by NFIB member and SAFE Trust endorsed Rep. Judy Warnick, who was elected to the open senate seat in the 13th Legislative District. Our one endorsed challenger, Jim Kellett, lost to Sen. Steve Hobbs (D-Lake Stevens) in the 44th Legislative District.

Surprise House Victories

The more surprising results were in state House races where Washington SAFE Trust endorsed challengers may have defeated as many as four incumbent Democrat state representatives.

  • NFIB/Washington Leadership Council member Lynda Wilson leads Rep. Monica Stonier (D-Vancouver) by 1,134 votes, 51.57 percent to 48.43 percent, in the 17th Legislative District.
  • Small-business owner Melanie Stambaugh has a commanding lead over Rep. Dawn Morrell (D-Puyallup), 54.75 percent to 45.25 percent in the 25th Legislative District.
  • Dentist Michelle Caldier clings to a narrow 502 vote lead over Rep. Larry Seaquist (D-Gig Harbor), 50.52 percent to 49.48 percent, in the 26th Legislative District.
  • Finally, in his third run for this seat, Dan Griffey has pulled ahead of Rep. Kathy Haigh by 513 votes, 50.56 percent to 49.44 percent, in the 35th Legislative District.

Washington SAFE Trust endorsed candidates also won in four of six open seat House races. They include Gina McCabe (14th Legislative District), Drew Stokesbary (31st Legislative District), Luanne Van Werven (42nd Legislative District), and Mark Harmsworth (44th Legislative District). Our endorsed candidate in the 4th Legislative District, NFIB/Washington Leadership Council member Diana Wilhite, was defeated by fellow Republican Bob McCaslin, Jr. The race is still too close to call in the 28th Legislative District where Washington SAFE Trust-endorsed candidate Paul Wagemann trails Democrat Kristine Killduff by 294 votes, 49.61 percent to 50.39 percent.

In addition, all 37 Washington SAFE Trust endorsed incumbent state representatives were re-elected. If the results above hold, House Republicans could expand their numbers by four, leaving House Democrats with a slim 51-47 vote majority.

More Difficult to Pass Tax Increases

A constitutional majority of 50 votes is needed to pass most bills in the state House of Representatives, leaving majority Democrats just one vote to spare. This could make it much more difficult for the Legislature to enact tax increases or other so-called “revenue enhancements” to satisfy the state supreme court’s McCleary decision, which requires more spending for basic education, or to fund the pay and benefit increases Gov. Jay Inslee has negotiated with several state employee unions. It may also derail the governor’s ambitious climate change agenda, which has small business worried about significant increases in fuel and electricity prices.

While we expect the vote trends discussed above to continue, there were still 167,585 ballots left to be counted as of Monday, November 10. More than half of those are in King County. County elections departments have until November 25 to report their final tallies. The Secretary of State will certify election results by December 4, 2014.

For more information, contact NFIB/Washington State Director Patrick Connor at 360-786-8675 or by email.

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