In a crucial race south of Seattle that could determine the balance of power in Olympia, Republican Bill Boyce is poised to advance to the general election. He’ll face either Satwinder Kaur or Claudia Kauffman, one of two Democrats running to keep the seat blue following Sen. Mona Das’ exit, who are virtually tied for second place.

The 47th Legislative District race is one of many Seattle-area contests without an incumbent and one that Republicans see as key to their hopes of breaking Democrats’ complete control over Olympia this November.

Democrats, meanwhile, hoped to throw cold water on Republicans’ ambitions. This November, they’ll be defending seats in Northeast Seattle, the Kitsap Peninsula, Whidbey Island and elsewhere, seeking to disprove the forecasts of an Election Day romp.

Sen. Jamie Pedersen, campaign chair for the Senate Democrats, pronounced the night a good one for his party. “It does not look like control of the Legislature is going to be changing this year,” he said.

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House Republican Leader J.T. Wilcox, of Yelm, said it was too early to make any pronouncements. “I’d say at this point there’s not a big message,” he said.

A slew of exits from the Washington state Legislature has cascaded through this year’s elections, opening races to newcomers who may not have otherwise challenged their district’s incumbent.

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Reps. Eileen Cody and Kirsten Harris-Talley, and Sens. David Frockt, Das and Reuven Carlyle all opted against running again this year, for various reasons. Rep. Noel Frame decided to vie for Carlyle’s seat in the Senate. The result is six Seattle-area races without an incumbent.

That reshuffling means that some areas in and around Seattle saw competitive contests for the first time in years.

The seat in the 47th has swung back and forth between Democrats and Republicans in recent years. Boyce, who has 45% of the vote, and Kaur, who has 27% of the vote, are both members of the Kent City Council. Claudia Kauffman, who has 28%, is a member of the Nez Perce Tribe and previously held the Senate seat in this district, before losing to Republican Joe Fain in 2010.

The stakes are not as high in other open-seat contests near Seattle as they are in the 47th. In the five other races without an incumbent, spanning from North Seattle down to Pierce County, the general election contest will be between two Democrats.

One race, for Senate in the 36th Legislative District, only drew two candidates, guaranteeing each advances to the general. Frame, an advocate for taxes on the wealthy who is looking to switch to the Senate, overwhelmingly led perennial candidate and design consultant Kate Martin.

In the race for the Senate seat in the 46th Legislative District, Rep. Javier Valdez, who’s also seeking a switch to the Senate, led county prosecutor Matt Gross with 82%.

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In the three-way race for West Seattle’s 34th Legislative District, replacing longtime Rep. Cody in one of the state’s most Democratic districts, Democrat Emily Alvarado had more than 50% of the vote, and Leah Griffin had 33%, while the lone Republican, Jolie Lansdowne had 15%.

Alvarado is the former director of the Seattle Office of Housing and Griffin is a librarian who’s lobbied for new state and federal laws related to investigations of sexual assault.

Contests in South King County and Northwest Seattle, both without incumbents, attracted a larger pool of candidates.

In the 36th District, representing Ballard and Magnolia, Frame’s seat in the House that she’s leaving behind to seek the Senate, Julia Reed rose to the top of five candidates, with 53% of the vote. Reed is a consultant and was recently a policy consultant for former Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan. Jeff Manson, an administrative law judge, is in second with 14% of the vote.

In Renton and Seattle’s South End, in the 37th Legislative District, Chipalo Street and Emijah Smith are leading the group of four running to replace Harris-Talley, who declined to seek reelection. Street had 40% of the vote, while Smith had 34%.

In the race for a House seat in the 31st Legislative District, which represents Southeast King and eastern Pierce counties, there is an incumbent: Republican Drew Stokesbary. Democrat Holly Stanton, a lawyer in Tacoma, sought to unseat Stokesbary and flip the seat, while Brandon Beynon, of Bonney Lake, said he thought he could bring more passion to the job than Stokesbary. On Tuesday night, Stanton had 40%, Stokesbary had 35% and Beynon had 24%.

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In one of the most-watched and expensive races, between Sen. Emily Randall, the incumbent Democrat from Bremerton, and Republican challenger Jesse Young in the 26th Legislative District, Randall was leading with 53% of the vote.

Polls and pundits are predicting a good election year for Republicans, giving the minority party hope to reclaim some power in Olympia, which has been under Democrats’ total control since 2017. The party has been hammering on inflation, gas prices and public safety, trying to paint the Democrats as unconcerned with the issues of working-class Americans.

Democrats, meanwhile, are hoping to fend off the challenge by focusing on large social issues, such as abortion, in the hopes of firing up their base.

Many Democratic candidates are pushing housing prices to the forefront and advocating for increased density and more subsidized housing, and many also say they want to reshape Washington’s tax code to hit wealthy people harder.

Washington’s vote by-mail-system means the results released Tuesday can and often do change with each subsequent ballot drop.

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STATE HOUSE

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STATE SENATE