Next year’s Washington state Legislature will look much like this year’s Legislature, with a narrow Democratic majority in the House and an even slimmer Republican majority in the Senate.
OLYMPIA — When it comes to the partisan divide, next year’s Washington state Legislature will look much like this year’s Legislature.
That means Democrats and Republicans will each hold a slim majority over a legislative chamber when lawmakers go into what’s expected to be another high-stakes budget-year session in January.
With the re-election of state Sen. Mark Mullet of Issaquah — his GOP challenger conceded this week — Democrats gained a total of one seat in the Senate. That pickup came with Lisa Wellman’s defeat of Sen. Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island.
But Republicans — along with conservative Democratic Sen. Tim Sheldon, who caucuses with the GOP — will keep control the Senate by a one-vote margin, 25-24.
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Based on his prior experience, Mullet said the shift “doesn’t make a big difference.” Mullet added that he’s focused on bringing transportation improvements to his district.
Rep. Chad Magendanz, R-Issaquah, who gave up his House seat to challenge Mullet in the 5th Legislative District, conceded on Monday. Magendanz will continue his work on the state’s Education Funding Task Force through January, and said he’s open to running for a legislative seat again in the future.
In the state House, the balance of power also remained unchanged. Each party picked off two seats that had been held by the other.
Democratic challengers Kristine Reeves and Mike Pellicciotti unseated two GOP incumbent representatives, Teri Hickel and Linda Kochmar, in the Federal Way area’s 30th District.
Republicans picked up a 31st Legislative District seat, where Republican Phil Fortunato beat Lane Walthers, who describes himself as an independent Democrat, to replace retiring Rep. Chris Hurst, D-Enumclaw.
The GOP also picked up a seat in Southwest Washington, where Republican Jim Walsh beat Democrat Teresa Purcell in the 19th Legislative District.
That means Democrats will continue to hold the House with a 50-48 majority.
The two chambers will have to work alongside Gov. Jay Inslee next year to craft the state’s 2017-19 operating budget and a K-12 school-funding plan to resolve the state Supreme Court’s McCleary order.