It is one week and a day after the 2012 elections and all but a select few races have been determined. What is left, however, may mean the difference in Senate leadership.
In the 17th legislative district, long-time Republican Senator Don Benton leads Democratic Representative Tim Probst in the closest Senate race statewide. As of Tuesday evening Benton lead Probst by 65 votes … a difference that has seesawed each time new results are announced. Earlier Tuesday Probst lead the race by 16 votes. The winner of this race may determine who controls the Senate.
Regardless of the outcome the Democrats will maintain a majority in the Senate. However, during the 2012 legislative session, Democrats Tim Sheldon and Rodney Tom, along with one other, departing Puyallup Sen. Jim Kastama, joined Republicans to form a “philosophical majority” and advanced their own budget plan. According to the Olympian, “now their continued role as king-makers hinges on the re-election of Vancouver Republican Sen. Don Benton … and Rep. Tim Probst in a race almost certainly headed for a recount.” “A win by Benton would trim Democrats’ majority by one to 26-23 and give Tom and Sheldon a choice to make: Do they follow last year’s template of giving Republicans de facto control over the budget while keeping Democrats in charge of the Senate and its committees? Or do they go even further and give Republicans the leadership and chairmanships?”
Other races were not nearly as close and most have been called. Below are some notable outcomes.
- Governor’s Race: Democrat Jay Inslee beat Republican Rob McKenna
- District One Senate: Incumbent Democrat Rosemary McAuliffe retains her seat with 55% of the vote
- District Two Senate: Incumbent Republican Randi Becker retains her seat with 56.6% of the vote
- District Five Senate: Newcomer Mark Mullet, Democrat, beat Republican challenger Brad Toft. This seat was vacated earlier this spring by Republican Cheryl Pflug
- District 10 Senate: Incumbent Democrat Mary Margaret Haugen lost her longtime seat to current Republican Representative Barbara Bailey
- House Higher Education Chair, Democrat Larry Seaquist, beat challenger Doug Richards
- Local House Democrat and Chair of the Education Appropriations Committee, Kathy Haigh, beat Republican challenger Dan Griffey
- Current State Senator Derek Kilmer beat Republican Challenger Bill Driscoll in the US Congressional District 6 race (this seat is being vacated by longtime Congressman Norm Dicks)
- Local US Congressional District 10 was won by Democrat Denny Heck after he beat Republican Richard (Dick) Muri