By Steve Guntli
The early returns for Tuesday’s general election are in, and Whatcom County voters heavily favored Republicans and incumbents.
The Whatcom County Auditor’s Office posted the early results of the election at 8 p.m. on November 4. The office has counted 65,446 ballots, reflecting a 51 percent voter turnout. The final count will be certified on November 25.
Early returns showed Republican candidates dominating the legislative races. State senator Doug Ericksen held on to his seat for a second term over challenger Seth Fleetwood, winning 59 percent of the vote compared to Fleetwood’s 41.
The Ericksen-Fleetwood competition was one of the most expensive legislative contests in the county’s history, according to the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission. Fleetwood spent more than $800,000 trying to get elected, and Ericksen devoted more than $460,000 to his reelection campaign. This does not include the $300,000 spent by Ericksen supporters on independent advertisements, or the $50,000 spent on ads by Fleetwood’s camp. Complete records of the reported expenditures for each candidate can be found at pdc.wa.gov.
The race for district 42 state representatives also went to the Republicans. Vincent Buys won his third term as position 2 representative, taking 58 percent of the vote. His opponent, Joy Monjure, received 41 percent.
Position 1 candidate Luanne Van Werven beat Democratic challenger Satpal Sidhu with 56 percent to Sidhu’s 44 percent. The position 1 race was the only one that didn’t have an incumbent, as Van Werven and Sidhu were running to fill the seat vacated by Jason Overstreet.
While Republicans swept the legislative positions in the county, the congressional race belongs to the Democrats.
Suzan DelBene secured a second term as congressional representative for district 1. Early returns showed DelBene with 55 percent of the vote, while Republican challenger Pedro Celis had 45 percent.
Rick Larsen will start his eighth term as representative for district 2, winning an impressive 62 percent of the vote over Republican B.J. Guillot. Districts 1 and 2 encompass most of Whatcom, Skagit, Island and King counties.
Statewide, voters chose to embrace more progressive state measures, particularly when it comes to gun control. Voters passed I-594 with 59 percent in favor, which would require stricter background checks on all gun purchases and transfers. Voters rejected I-591, which sought to prevent the state from initiating background checks beyond the national standard with a 54 percent no vote. County voters mirrored state results with similar percentages.
Voters also passed I-1351, which would reduce class sizes in public schools, and voted to maintain a marijuana excise tax and a leasehold excise tax on tribal properties.
For a complete list of election results, visit co.whatcom.wa.us/auditor/.
Updated to reflect the vote count from November 5.