Post-Primary Election Analysis from NFIB

Date: August 15, 2022

State Director Patrick Connor looks ahead to the November ballot

Ballots from the August 2 Primary Election continue to trickle in, but results have largely solidified in most races.

Generally speaking, Republican vote totals suffered from a glut of unserious candidates emerging in the last days or hours of filing week. This fractured the Republican vote in many races, and in one instance resulted in two Democrats advancing to the general election in a highly targeted swing district where Republicans had hoped to sweep an open Senate and House seat, as well as defeat what appeared to be a weak Democrat incumbent state representative. This district went from a three-seat pickup opportunity to an uncertain plus-one gain for state Senate Republicans with only a longshot hope for wresting a House seat from the incumbent.

It is interesting that a number of longtime Democrat incumbents facing challengers in the primary received close to the anticipated base partisan vote. That could be indicative of greater problems on the horizon for the majority party come November.

The following is an overview of races likely to be of most importance to NFIB members and other small business owners.

FEDERAL

US Sen. Patty Murray appears poised to return to Washington, D.C., for a sixth term, winning 52.6% of the vote against 17 challengers. She will face Tiffany Smiley (33.5%) in the general election.

WA-03: US Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, who faced a significant backlash due to her vote to impeach then-President Donald Trump, on Tuesday, August 9, conceded the race to Republican challenger Joe Kent. He led Herrera Beutler by 928 votes. Both trailed Democrat Marie Perez, who leads the race with 31% of the vote. NFIB Fed PAC endorsed Herrera Beutler.

WA-04: US Rep. Dan Newhouse now leads a hotly contested race with just 25.5% of the vote. He will face Democrat Doug White (25.2%) in the general election. Like Herrera Beutler, Newhouse voted to impeach Mr. Trump; he drew six Republican challengers as a result. NFIB Fed PAC endorsed Newhouse for re-election.

WA-05: Surprisingly, US Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers polled rather poorly in the primary, winning the race with just 51% of the vote. She faced a fellow Republican and two Democrat challengers. The combined Republican vote totaled 59%, bolstering McMorris Rodgers’ prospects for victory in November. She will face Democrat Natasha Hill (30.5%) in the general election. NFIB Fed PAC endorsed McMorris Rodgers for re-election.

STATE SENATE

All NFIB Washington PAC endorsed senate candidates will advance to the general election. 

In fact, several will return to Olympia unopposed for reelection, including LD-06, Sen. Jeff Holy; LD-07, Sen. Shelly Short; and LD-13, NFIB member Sen. Judy Warnick. Newcomer Nikki Torres, LD-15, is unopposed in her bid to replace Sen. Jim Honeyford who decided not to seek reelection this year.

LD-08: Rep. Matt Boehnke holds a commanding lead in the race for this open senate seat. His 67.3% dwarfs that of his general election opponent Ronni Batchelor’s 24.1%. Batchelor is running as an independent. This is a 2:1 Republican district, and NFIB WA PAC-endorsed Boehnke is expected to sail to an easy victory in November.

LD-26: State Rep. Jesse Young continues to gain ground against freshman Sen. Emily Randall in this swing district. Randall leads with just 51.5% of the vote. This is already the most expensive race of the election cycle. Randall has raised more money than any other legislative candidate, with Young a close second: $453,271 to $418,255. NFIB WA PAC endorsed the challenger, Rep. Jesse Young, in this race.

LD-30: Freshman Sen. Claire Wilson leads with 54.2% versus 36.7% for NFIB WA PAC-endorsed Linda Kochmar. While this does not bode well for former state Rep. Kochmar, Wilson has so far underperformed in this district which has a base Democrat vote of 58.1%.

LD-31: NFIB WA PAC-endorsed Sen. Phil Fortunato scored 55.4%, eclipsing challenger Chris Vance’s 39.1%. Vance, the former state Republican Party chair, who bolted the party to become a “non-partisan” political pundit, garnered some support from unions and other traditional Democrat supporters in this race, but not enough to make it much of a contest thus far.

LD-35: As expected, NFIB member state Rep. Drew MacEwen leads in this race to succeed retiring Sen. Tim Sheldon. The general election will be a repeat of this head-to-head contest. MacEwen (54.7%) will again face Democrat Julianne Gale (45.2%) in November. NFIB WA PAC endorsed MacEwen for this senate vacancy.

LD-42: NFIB WA PAC endorsed incumbent Sen. Simon Sefzik to retain this seat. Sefzik was appointed to replace the late Sen. Doug Ericksen. After dispatching fellow Republican Ben Elenbaas (19.75%), Sefzik (33.15%) will square off against Democrat Rep. Sharon Shewmake (47.1%). Shewmake had intended to challenge Ericksen, expecting the redrawn district to be more favorable to Democrats. This battleground district now slightly leans Democrat, favoring that party with an estimated 51.2% base vote – though the primary election results do not reflect that change. This race features several soap-operatic twists and turns. Whatcom County councilmember Elenbaas was also among the three Republican nominees for the then-vacant senate seat. While he abstained from the vote, it is believed his colleagues chose to appoint the 22-year-old Sefzik expecting Sefzik would be a weaker candidate against Shewmake. Clearly that was not to be the case. Sefzik proved to be among the senate’s best orators, and a fundraising prodigy. Sefzik has raised more than $380,000 – the third highest of all legislative candidates so far this cycle. Shewmake is #15, raising nearly $200,000. Meanwhile, Elenbaas ranks #78, bringing in less than $100,000 for the primary. Sefzik now has the opportunity to avenge his mother’s 2020 loss to Shewmake for an open state House seat.

LD-47: Another of the state’s traditionally most competitive districts, the 47th now leans more Democrat after redistricting with an estimated 54.1% advantage for that party. Unexpectedly, freshman Sen. Mona Das decided not to seek re-election this year. Republicans recruited Kent city councilmember Bill Boyce; fellow Kent city councilmember Satwinder Kaur filed as a Democrat, as did former state Sen. Claudia Kauffman (2007-2010). NFIB WA PAC-endorsed Boyce leads with 45.6%; Kauffman is running second with 27.2%, a scant 63 votes ahead of Kaur (27.0%). Given the Democrat advantage in this district, Boyce faces an uphill battle in the general election. He is #5 in fundraising with nearly $260,500 collected to date. Kaur is #53 with $120,175 raised so far; Kauffman trails at #150 with less than $50,000 raised for the primary. It would appear Boyce’s best bet would be facing Kauffman in the general election, but it’s unclear which Democrat will advance.

STATE HOUSE

All but one of NFIB WA PAC’s endorsed House candidates will qualify for the general election ballot.

LD-02: NFIB members and incumbent state Reps. Andrew Barkis (unopposed) and JT Wilcox won their primaries.

LD-04: Rep. Rob Chase narrowly leads challenger and former Rep. Leonard Christian, 50.1% to 46.4%. Christian was appointed to the state House in 2014 but was defeated in that year’s primary election. Christian has also faced, and was defeated by, Rep. Chase in the 2020 primary election. NFIB WA PAC endorsed Rep. Chase this year.

LD-05: NFIB WA PAC endorsed former Rep. Chad Magendanz, who is challenging Rep. Lisa Callan. Callan leads 55.3% to 44.6%. This swing district narrowly favors Democrats with a 51.9% base vote.

LD-06: NFIB WA PAC endorsed both incumbents. Rep. Mike Volz is unopposed for reelection; Rep. Jenny Graham leads her challenger, Michaela Kelso, 61% to 39%.

LD-07: Similarly, we endorsed both incumbents in this district. Rep. Jacquelin Maycumber leads her challenger, Lonny Ray Williams, 71% to 27%. Rep. Joel Kretz is unopposed.

LD-09: Both NFIB WA PAC-endorsed incumbents in this district, Reps. Mary Dye and Joe Schmick, are unopposed.

LD-10: Both of our endorsed candidates are trailing in this key swing district. After redistricting, the 10th now leans slightly more Republican, with a base vote of 52.2% for the GOP. NFIB member and state Rep. Greg Gilday is struggling against his challenger, Clyde Shavers, 47.9% to 51.9%. Gilday is underperforming the baseline vote, as is his fellow Republican Karen Lesetmoe. Lesetmoe is challenging Democrat state Rep. Dave Paul for the Position 2 seat. Paul was prepared for a challenge and is among the top ten fundraisers this cycle. He leads Lesetmoe 54.3% to 45.6%.

LD-12: NFIB WA PAC endorsed both incumbents. NFIB member Rep. Keith Goehner is unopposed. His seatmate, Rep. Mike Steele, is dominating challenger Robert Amenn, 80.5% to 14.4%.

LD-13: NFIB WA PAC endorsed incumbents Reps. Tom Dent and Alex Ybarra; both are unopposed for reelection.

LD-14: NFIB WA PAC endorsed both incumbents. Rep. Chris Corry leads his challenger, Laurene Contreras, 68% to 31%. Rep. Gina Mosbrucker (64.9%) outpolled two challengers. She will face Liz Hallock (20.7%) of the self-styled “Women’s Reproductive Justice Party” in November.

LD-15: NFIB WA PAC endorsed incumbent Rep. Bruce Chandler and newcomer Brian Sandlin. Both are unopposed.

LD-16: NFIB WA PAC endorsed both incumbents. Rep. Mark Klicker defeated two opponents and will face challenger Jeff Strickler in the general election. Klicker leads Strickler 68.6% to 27.9%. Rep. Skyler Rude and his Democrat opponent, Jan Corn, will face off again in November. Rude leads 72.7% to 27.2%.

LD-17: NFIB WA PAC endorsed retired NFIB member and incumbent Rep. Paul Harris. Harris is running second with 30.2%, fending off challenges from two fellow Republicans. He will face Democrat Joe Kear (45%) in the general election. The combined Republican tally outpolled the base vote of 53.8% in this Republican-leaning district.

LD-19: NFIB WA PAC endorsed both incumbents, who lead their respective races. The coastal 19th district is now solidly Republican. Rep. Jim Walsh (61%) will face Kelli Hughes-Ham (39%), and Rep. Joel McEntire (60.4%) will face challenger Cara Cusack (30.6%) in November. There was a third candidate in the Position 2 race, who took less than 9% of the vote against McEntire and Cusack.

LD-20: NFIB WA PAC endorsed both incumbents, Reps. Peter Abbarno and Ed Orcutt, who are unopposed for re-election.

LD-24: NFIB WA PAC endorsed Brian Pruiett (41.3%), who is challenging Rep. Steve Tharinger for the Position 2 House seat. Tharinger also faced a fellow Democrat in the primary. The combined Democrat vote was 58.6%, well above the district’s base Democrat vote of 52%, likely portending a strong general election showing for Rep. Tharinger.

LD-25: NFIB WA PAC endorsed both incumbents, including NFIB member and former Leadership Councilor Rep. Kelly Chambers. Chambers faced a familiar rival, Democrat Jaime Smith, who she again easily dispatched, 55.0% to 44.8%. Chambers’ seatmate, freshman Rep. Cyndy Jacobsen is unopposed.

LD-26: NFIB WA PAC endorsed Republican Spencer Hutchins, a small business owner, in the Position 1 open seat contest. Hutchins currently trails Democrat Adison Richards by 116 votes in this swing district. NFIB WA PAC-endorsed Rep. Michelle Caldier leads 55% to 45% in a head-to-head race with challenger Matt Macklin. Caldier is outperforming the 53% base Republican vote.

LD-30: NFIB WA PAC endorsed Ashli Tagoai for the Position 2 open seat. Tagoai will face former state Rep. Kristine Reeves in the general election. Reeves leads the four-person race with 43%. Tagoai is second with 37.1%. The combined Democrat vote of 56.9% is a bit under the district’s 58.1% base Democrat vote. As with the Claire Wilson-Linda Kochmar senate race, there could be a slim, outside chance for one or more Republican gains in this district.

LD-31: NFIB WA PAC endorsed both incumbents in this district. Rep. Eric Robertson is unopposed. Curiously, Rep. Drew Stokesbary is trailing Democrat challenger Holly Stanton, 35.0% to 38.3%, due to Republican Brandon Beynon entering the race. Beynon raised about $8,700 and spent a bit more than $6,500 – but took nearly 27% of the vote. Stokesbary is the House Republican budget lead, and #7 in fundraising so far this cycle, bringing in more than $210,000. He has a commanding cash-on-hand advantage, nearly $134,000 to just $1,050 for the Democrat, heading into the general election. This, coupled with a base Republican vote of 58%, should ensure Stokesbary’s return to Olympia, but his poor showing in the primary is certain to raise questions.

LD-35: NFIB WA PAC endorsed Rep. Dan Griffey for reelection. Griffey leads the challenger, 57.1% to 42.8%.

LD-38: Primary results for our endorsed candidates in these two open seats are disappointing, but not entirely unexpected. NFIB WA PAC’s endorsed candidate in Position 1, Gary Kemp, is running second at 22.2%. With a combined Democrat tally of nearly 60% in that race, Kemp’s prospects appear bleak. In the Position 2 contest, NFIB WA PAC-endorsed Mark James is faring only slightly better, also running second, with 38.4% to Democrat Mary Fosse’s 55.8%. The district has a 55.6% base Democrat vote.

LD-39: NFIB WA PAC endorsed both incumbents in this solidly Republican district. Rep. Robert Sutherland will face a fellow Republican, Snohomish County councilor Sam Low, in the general election. Low has raised nearly $115,000 to Sutherland’s $37,000. Sutherland leads Low, 33.1% to 27.3%. Rep. Carolyn Eslick will also advance to the general election. She is outpolling three challengers with 44.9% of the vote and will face Democrat Jessica Wadhams (36.8%) in the general election. The combined Republican vote in Eslick’s race is 57%, which should make for a relatively easy general election victory.

LD-44: Republicans fared rather poorly in this swing district, which slightly favors Democrats with a base vote of 52.8%. NFIB WA PAC endorsed former Rep. Mark Harmsworth against appointee Rep. Brandy Donaghy. Newcomer Donaghy leads 53.5% to 46.4%. While Harmsworth’s performance is the best of any Republican running in this district, it is worth noting that all three Democrat incumbents outperformed the base vote here. Sen. John Lovick polled 58.3%, and Rep. April Berg won 56.6% in head-to-head contests against their Republican challengers. NFIB WA PAC did not endorse in the Senate or other House race.

LD-45: NFIB WA PAC endorsed Deputy Majority Leader Rep. Larry Springer for reelection. He holds a commanding lead of 72.3% over his closest competitor, Republican John Gibbons, who took just 20.3% of the primary vote.

LD-47: In a staggeringly unexpected outcome, the two Democrat candidates for this swing-district seat will face each other in the general election. NFIB WA PAC endorsed House Republican favorite Carmen Goers in this race. Goers seemed an impressive candidate with strong community relationships and a background in small business banking. She ranked #14 among all candidates with almost $200,000 raised and spent nearly $150,000 in the race – only to finish LAST among five candidates, with just 14.3% of the vote. A review of her publicly reported campaign expenditures shows huge outlays to her consultant for various services, but nothing conspicuously out of the ordinary. Perennial Republican candidate Barry Knowles, defeated in legislative races in 2014, 2016, 2020, and now in 2022, took 17.5% of the vote. The other Republican in the race, Ted Cooke scored 15.2%. Together the three Republicans tallied 46.9% compared to the Democrats’ combined 53%. Nonetheless, it is difficult for this observer to understand, let alone explain, how such a well-funded, allegedly top-tier candidate could perform so very poorly after spending $110,000 on signs, cable and digital ads, and mailings.

Despite the length of this update, not all races were covered. Those not listed above are contests where NFIB WA PAC has not yet made or is unlikely to issue an endorsement.

The NFIB Washington PAC will review additional legislative races and consider endorsements where involvement could have the greatest impact.

 

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