But the governor’s race, the marquee state contest in the General Election, remains very close.
Democrat Jay Inslee, who gave up a safe congressional seat to run for the office being vacated by two-term Gov. Chris Gregoire, led Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna 51.32 percent to 48.68 percent, or about 50,000 votes out of nearly 1.9 million counted. Inslee told cheering supporters it looked like victory, but didn’t declare himself the winner in so many words. McKenna, still seeing a path to victory as more votes come in, declined to concede.
Roughly 40 percent of the vote remains to be counted. Inslee led in nine of the 39 counties. That included vote-rich King, where he was polling 63-37, for a plurality of 140k.
President Obama picked up Washington’s 12 electoral votes, as expected. He outpolled Mitt Romney 55-43.
Sen. Maria Cantwell, a Democrat, was returned to a third six-year term, polling 59-41 over Republican state Sen. Michael Baumgartner.
Denny Heck, Derek Kilmer and Suzan DelBene led in the open 10th, 6th and 1st U.S. House districts. Incumbents were easy winners in the other districts.
The Legislature again will have Democratic majorities to work with the new governor.
The state drew some national attention for its ballot measures:
–The state, along with Maryland and Maine, was apparently affirming same-sex marriage. R-74 was the text of the marriage equality bill passed by the Legislature last spring and placed on the ballot by opponents. It was passing narrowly, 52-48, but proponents were already celebrating. The margin was about 68,000 with 1.9 million votes tallied, including a 65-35 affirmative vote in populous King County.
–By an even larger margin, 56-44 percent, the state was approving a plan, I-502, to authorize, regulate and tax recreational sales and use of marijuana by adults. The federal government said the vote does not change drug policies against marijuana growing, sales and use.
–Fourth time’s the charm? A plan to authorize up to 40 publicly funded charter schools, I-1240, was narrowly ahead.
–Tim Eyman’s perennial plan to require a two-thirds supermajority to pass taxes in Olympia, I-1185, passed easily, with nearly two-thirds of the voters in favor — 65-35. The concept of a supermajority, however, is being challenged in the state Supreme Court.
Secretary of State Sam Reed said the turnout was exceptionally strong, possibly higher than the 81 percent he initially forecast.
“There were so many significant decisions for voters to make, and so many interesting state and local ballot propositions. There was literally something for everyone, and I was so glad to see the Washington voters get so engaged in our elections.”