By David Chircop, Herald Writer
EVERETT — The last undecided race for a state legislative seat is finally over.
A hand recount of nearly 69,000 votes cast in last month’s election was completed Thursday, showing Republican Mike Hope beat Democrat Liz Loomis by 138 votes in the 44th District.
Hope, 33, said he was looking forward to his freshman year as a state representative. At the same time, he acknowledges inheriting a multi-billion budget deficit in Olympia will require tough decisions.
“It’s definitely going to be a challenge figuring out where we are going to make these cuts,” said Hope, a resident of Lake Stevens and a Seattle police officer. “And we want to do it without raising taxes.”
Loomis, the former mayor of Snohomish, was appointed to 44th District Position 2 in January to succeed John Lovick, who was elected to the office of Snohomish County sheriff. Loomis could not be reached for comment Thursday afternoon.
The 44th District represents Lake Stevens, Mill Creek and Snohomish and parts of Everett and Marysville.
On Election Day, Loomis held a 2,139-vote advantage over Hope. But that 53 percent to 47 percent lead was whittled away. In the final machine count, Hope overtook Loomis, but led by a razor-thin margin of less than 0.16 percentage points.
The margin was small enough to trigger a state law that requires hand counts for tight races.
Eleven pairs of Democrats and Republicans worked side-by-side for 2 1/2 days this week, recounting ballots by hand.
The final outcome showed Hope edging out Loomis with 34,486 to 34,348, a margin of 0.2 percentage points.
The Snohomish County Elections Board is expected to certify the election on Monday after determining what to do with a half-dozen ballots on which voters did not clearly mark their preference.
Hope’s priorities on the campaign trail included finding funding for safety projects on Highway 9 and U.S. 2, a bypass in Monroe, eliminating the WASL, and reducing K-12 classroom sizes.
Reporter David Chircop: 425-339-3429 or firstname.lastname@example.org.