Initial ballots show Democrats leading not just in the usual handful of Puget Sound-area swing districts. Democratic candidates were beating Republicans in normally deep-red places, such as the Spokane area’s 6th District, and Vancouver-area’s 18th District.
OLYMPIA — Republicans at the Washington Legislature may be in deep trouble.
In Tuesday night’s initial primary results, Democrats appear to have a shot at picking up four Republican-held state Senate seats.
At least 11 Republican House incumbents trailed their Democratic challengers.
At least another three Republican House candidates in open seats that the GOP is defending were also trailing Democrats.
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As more votes are counted in the coming days, those results could swing, but the initial ballots show Democrats leading not just in the usual handful of Puget Sound-area swing districts.
Democratic candidates were beating Republicans in normally deep-red places, such as the Spokane area’s 6th District, and Vancouver-area’s 18th District.
“It’s certainly much-stronger returns that we had expected in even our most optimistic projections,” said state Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, D-Burien, and chair of the House Democratic Campaign Committee.
In a text message, House Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox, R-Yelm, pointed to generally low turnout, saying, “Probably some changes in the next few days.”
Democrats on Tuesday evening also held commanding leads in many of the districts that Republicans this year had hoped to target.
The GOP has kept Democrats recently to a 50-48 state House majority, and until a 2017 special election, for years held a slim Republican Senate majority. Currently, Democrats control the Senate 25-24.
In the closely watched 30th District in Federal Way, Sen. Mark Miloscia, R-Federal Way, had about 48.5 percent of the vote, with Democratic candidate Claire Wilson bringing in about 38.5 percent and Democrat Tirzah Idahosa with about 13 percent.
In the 26th District on the Kitsap Peninsula, Democrat Emily Randall led Republican Marty McClendon, 51 to 45 percent. Independent Bill Scheidler had less than 3 percent in that race to succeed Sen. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard.
In the 42nd District north of Bellingham, Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, had 46 percent, with Democrats Pinky Vargas at 29 percent and Tim Ballew at 25 percent. Both Republican House members in that district also trailed Democratic challengers.
In the Spokane-area 6th District race to replace retiring GOP Sen. Michael Baumgartner, Democrat Jessa Lewis had 51 percent, with Jeff Holy at 49 percent.
Meanwhile, two Democrats are leading in the 11-way race to replace Washington state Senate Democratic Majority Leader Sharon Nelson of Maury Island in the 34th District.
As of Tuesday evening’s initial vote results, Joe Nguyen had about 28 percent and Shannon Braddock had about 27 percent in the top-two primary for the 34th Legislative District, which includes West Seattle, White Center, Vashon Island and part of Burien.
Braddock is deputy chief of staff for King County Executive Dow Constantine; Nguyen is a senior manager at Microsoft.
In the Eastside’s 48th District, Sen. Patty Kuderer, D-Bellevue, faces a challenge by former Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom.
Kuderer on Tuesday evening had about 59 percent of the vote, with Tom at about 30 percent, and independent Bill Hirt at 11 percent.
Many in the GOP have campaigned against the specter of Seattle, warning that Democratic majorities could lead to policies such as the city’s brief flirtation with an employee head tax.
Democrats have meanwhile touted legislation they passed earlier this year while controlling both chambers, including bills on voting-rights bill, equal pay and women’s reproductive health. Those bills had stalled under divided government.
Even with the parties’ preferred candidates expected to advance to the November general election, four Senate races have already drawn more than a combined $1.65 million in spending by outside groups attempting to influence the outcome.
In the House, in Issaquah-area 5th District, Democrat Bill Ramos led Republican Chad Magendanz in the race to replace Rep. Jay Rodne, R-Snoqualmie.
In the district’s other seat, Rep. Paul Graves, R-Fall City, trailed Democrat Lisa Callan.
In the meantime, Democrats were looking to a pair of intraparty contests in the 32nd District. There, Sen. Maralyn Chase, D-Edmonds, had 39 percent, with Democrat and Shoreline Deputy Mayor Jesse Salomon at 36 percent and Republican James Wood at 25 percent.
In that district’s race to succeed retiring Rep. Ruth Kagi, Democrat Lauren Davis had a shade under 50 percent, with Democrat Chris Roberts and Republican Frank Deisler both at 25 percent.