Voting will end on Nov. 3, capping a long election season marked by a pandemic, protests against police violence and a contentious Supreme Court nomination. Even after initial results roll in, votes will continue to be tallied for days and weeks.
In Washington state’s 5th Legislative District, Democrats seem optimistic about their prospects in east King County, a historically red district that swung blue in 2018. As of Tuesday evening on election night, Democrats were winning all three district seats.
Martin Chaney, a member of the 5th Legislative District Democrats but speaking for himself instead of the organization, said he was “cautiously optimistic” about their chances on Nov. 3. He spoke with this publication in the week before the election.
Lisa Callan (D) is running essentially unopposed for the 2nd House seat, with only a write-in Republican challenger. Bill Ramos (D) has out-raised challenger Ken Moninski (R) by more than $120,000, according to the Public Disclosure Commission, which tracks campaign spending.
As of the evening of Nov. 3, Anderson had garnered 49.71%, barely beating Mullet who had 48.38%. Ramos was handily beating his challenger with 63.07%, while Moninski netted 36.78% of the vote. Callan, who was running against a write-in candidate, garnered 90.05% of the vote.
Despite Democrats winning all three district seats in 2018, Chaney said he still believes the district is a purple one — a mix of red and blue voters.
A recent Seattle Times analysis of voter contributions to the Donald Trump and Joe Biden presidential campaigns found the valley is split in who it contributes to. Zip codes 98065 and 98024, which represent Snoqualmie and the area immediately to the northwest have both given more to Biden’s campaign.
But 98045, which encompasses North Bend, areas to the north, and stretches southeast, saw donors giving nearly $47,000 to Trump’s campaign, besting the $30,000 donated to Biden’s. However, every zip code in the southern portion of the district donated more to Trump’s campaign.
On the Republican side, 5th District Republican Political Committee Treasurer Joe Merritt said he was keeping the primary results in mind. He thinks restrictions on traditional campaigning efforts, like canvassing and door-knocking, will help candidates seeking re-election.
“That has to favor the incumbent,” he said.
In the Aug. 4 primary, Democratic incumbents did blow out their challengers. Ramos netted 59% of the vote, and Lisa Callan received 92%. But the Senate race was much closer.
Incumbent candidate Mark Mullet received received roughly 47.5% of the vote, only 1 point behind progressive challenger Ingrid Anderson.
But since then, Merritt believes Mullet has garnered significant support from Republican voters. He thinks Mullet will not only beat Anderson, but win by the largest margin in the district.
“He’s like 99% in my book going to get re-elected,” he said.
Mullet has staked out positions he self-described as moderate, and has opposed several pieces of legislation pushed by Gov. Jay Inslee. This hasn’t won him any favors with Olympia Democrats, and this election will tell whether his record has endeared him to voters in the 5th District or not.
Mullet’s opposition to an income tax in particular has won him support from 5th District Republicans, Merritt said.
At an October candidate forum hosted by the SnoValley Chamber of Commerce, both Mullet and Anderson said they were opposed to a state income tax.
It’s also unclear how a backlash against COVID-19 business shutdowns could effect the election.
“I have no idea how that’s going to turn out, but I actually think it’s a real issue that people are tired about the Covid pandemic shutdowns. And you can ask people to change, to scramble their life for three months, six months, but as it continues to drag out, it becomes weary. It’ll be interesting to see how that turns out,” Merritt said.
Across the U.S., there have been concerns about whether the election will wind up in a now Conservative Supreme Court, which could decide who wins the election. There’s also concerns that Trump won’t acknowledge the results of the election if they show Biden winning.
While Chaney said he’s somewhat anxious about that, he’s waiting to see what happens.
“The United States has a long history of following elections, and respecting the results of elections,” he said. “We understand of course that it takes a significant amount of time to properly tally the results of elections, so we might not know on election night who has actually won.”
But in terms of election tampering or intimidation in the 5th Legislative District, both Merritt and Chaney said they hadn’t heard of any incidents.
Ballots must be returned to a King County drop box by 8 p.m. on Nov. 3. A list of drop box locations can be found online on the county’s website. Results will continue to be updated throughout this week.