OLYMPIA — Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman was set to win her third term Wednesday as she extended her lead over Democratic challenger Rep. Gael Tarleton of Seattle.
With King, Snohomish, Pierce, Spokane and other counties posting results by Wednesday evening, Wyman was getting 52.4% of the vote.
To take the lead, Tarleton, who has received 48% of the 3.4 million votes counted, would have to capture at least 70% of the estimated 450,000 votes still to be processed, according to an analysis by The Seattle Times.
First elected in 2012, Wyman has faced fierce challenges from Democrats who have been shut out of the secretary of state’s office since the mid-1960s.
Washington’s only other statewide elected Republican has not fared as well. State Treasurer Duane Davidson on Wednesday was trailing his challenger, Rep. Mike Pellicciotti, D-Federal Way, 55% to 45%.
Meanwhile, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said Wednesday the election results give him a mandate to continue with a public-health-based approach to tamping down the COVID-19 outbreak.
Speaking in a news conference, Inslee contrasted his actions during the pandemic to Republican challenger Loren Culp, who had campaigned against virus restrictions, such as making people wear facial coverings to prevent the spread of the virus.
“So it is clear that people chose to continue with our scientifically based program,” said Inslee. “And I do believe that’s based on the success of the program.”
“I think voters were aware that other places were experiencing tremendous losses, hospitals that were full,” he said, adding later: “We have avoided that fate, and I think voters understood that we’ve had success because we’ve made decisions on a scientific basis.”
Inslee said he would make more remarks Thursday on the new coronavirus, which is spiking across the nation.
Voters this week elected Inslee to a rare third term. On Wednesday evening, the governor led Culp, 59% to 41%. Culp has not conceded the race, noting that there are ballots still arriving in the mail that will be counted in the coming days.
Culp also announced Wednesday he lost his job as the police chief of the town of Republic, Ferry County. The Republic City Council voted to eliminate the one-person police department, said Culp, “and away with that went my job.”
“Not even a letter or thank you. Not a plaque for 10 years of service,” said Culp in a Facebook Live event. “It’s absolutely incredible. It’s unthinkable to me.”
Ballots being counted Wednesday and in the coming days were expected to bring clarity to a host of legislative races around the region.
In King County’s 5th Legislative District, Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah closed the gap slightly against Democratic challenger Ingrid Anderson. Mullet on Wednesday afternoon trailed Anderson 49.3% to 48.8%.
The results in a host of legislative races meanwhile remained close, with Democratic challengers leading GOP senate incumbents.
Democratic challenger T’wina Nobles continued to lead Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-University Place, in the Tacoma-area 28th District. Nobles was leading by a slightly narrower margin, compared to Tuesday, 51.5% to 48.3%.
In the 10th Legislative District, Democratic challenger Helen Price Johnson saw her lead against Sen. Ron Muzzall, R-Oak Harbor, narrow slightly. Price Johnson on Wednesday evening was leading 50.2% to 49.7%.
Seattle Times data journalist Manuel Villa contributed to this report.