Democratic women sweep 41st district in early returns | Election 2016

Mercer Islanders and Democrats Lisa Wellman, Tana Senn and Judy Clibborn are winning their respective races for the state senator and state representative positions in the 41st Legislative District, according to initial results from the Nov. 8 general election.

Women were not able to break the national glass ceiling, however, as Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was upset by Republican Donald Trump.

Last Tuesday, the presidential race wasn’t the only close one worth watching. The results in swing districts around the state, including the 41st, had the potential to shift control over the Washington state government.

Wellman, a former teacher and technology executive, is leading fellow Islander and incumbent Sen. Steve Litzow 52.31 percent to 47.59 percent as of Reporter deadline.

So far, Democrats have appeared to gain at least one seat in each chamber, which doesn’t change the majority in either one.

Before the election, the Democrats had a two-seat lead in the state House (50-48), while the Republicans had a majority in the Senate (26-23). Whoever controls the Legislature will have to work with incumbent Gov. Jay Inslee, who defeated challenger Bill Bryant.

With narrow margins of control in each chamber and the possibility of either or both changing hands in the November election, a lot of money was raised and spent to influence close races. The 41st District, which includes Mercer Island, Bellevue and Sammamish, had been inundated with signs, mailers and ads throughout the campaign.

According to the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC), Wellman raised more than $467,000 and received around $141,000 in independent spending supporting her candidacy. Litzow raised more than $795,000, leading all legislative candidates, followed by Steve O’Ban (R-Tacoma) and Mark Mullet (D-Issaquah).

Litzow received over $463,000 in independent spending, but more than $499,000 in independent dollars were spent against him.

Litzow appeared to be leading Wellman in early returns in the August primary, though she ended up beating him by one-and-a-half percentage points.

Senn and Clibborn, both incumbents, defeated their Republican challengers handily in the primaries. In the general election, Senn is leading John Pass 64.93 percent to 34.99 percent, while Michael Appleby trails Clibborn 37. 84 percent to 62.09 percent, as of Reporter deadline.

Clibborn has served in the Legislature since 2002, and Senn has served since 2013. Both were previously on the Mercer Island City Council.

Litzow, first elected to the Legislature in 2010 also after a stint on the Mercer Island City Council, served as chair of the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee. He was the lead sponsor of Senate Bill 6194, which secured a new source of state funding for charters. Senn and Clibborn voted for the bill in the House, and Wellman has said that she is not opposed to charter schools.

He and Wellman had different views about how to fully fund K-12 schools statewide, which will be the focal point of the 2017 Legislative session.

The state is under a constitutional obligation to fully fund public education and is not meeting that requirement, according to the Supreme Court’s 2012 McCleary decision. Wellman said she would support a capital gains tax to help come up with the $3 billion needed to fund education, while Litzow said the solution would be closing tax loopholes and adjusting local and state levies. Neither would support a state income tax.

In other results, Initiative 732, the carbon tax, is failing but the gun safety Initiative 1491 is passing statewide with 70.09 percent approval. Initiative 1433, which would raise the statewide minimum wage to $13.50, is passing with a 58.01 approval rate. Chris Reykdal has a narrow lead over Erin Jones in the race for Superintendent of Public Instruction, 50.72 percent to 49.28 percent.

Election results will be certified on Nov. 29. See www.kingcounty.gov/elections for more.

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